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Taylor v. McSwain

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 6, 1939

J. J. TAYLOR, W. ROY WAYLAND and JOHN J. DURKIN, as Members of and Constituting the Unemployment Compensation Commission of Arizona, E. W. MONTGOMERY, E. G. GRACEY and CLAUDE THOMAS, as Members of and Constituting the Advisory Committee on Personnel of the Unemployment Compensation Commission of Arizona, and SAMUEL T. ADAMS, as the Acting Supervsor of Merit Examinations of the Unemployment Compensation Commission of Arizona, Appellants,

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. M. T. Phelps, Judge. Judgment affirmed as modified.

Mr. George D. Locke, for Appellants.

Mr. J. Bolivar Sumter and Mr. Lee Garrett, for Appellees.


Page 416

[54 Ariz. 298] LOCKWOOD, J.

This is a class action by certain named plaintiffs, under section 3736, Revised Code of 1928, to

Page 417

secure a declaratory judgment as to the meaning and construction of a certain portion of subdivision (d), section 11, chapter 13, of the Session Laws of the First Special Session of the Twelfth Legislature, commonly known as the "Unemployment Compensation Law", and of certain regulations established by the Arizona Unemployment Compensation Commission [54 Ariz. 299] under said subdivision (d), supra. The complaint also asks for certain affirmative relief.

The defendants in the case were the members of the Unemployment Compensation Commission, hereinafter called the commission; the members of the advisory committee on personnel of the commission, hereinafter called the committee; and the acting supervisor of merit examinations, hereinafter called the supervisor. The defendants demurred to the complaint specially on the grounds (a) that all persons who would be affected by the judgment had not been made parties plaintiff, and (b) that a declaratory judgment would not terminate the uncertainty nor controversy set up in the complaint; and also demurred generally on the ground that the matters alleged in the complaint did not constitute a cause of action against the defendants. The court overruled the general and special demurrers, and defendants electing to stand upon the demurrers, a declaratory judgment was rendered, interpreting and construing subdivision (d), supra, and the rules and regulations of the commission established thereunder, and granting certain affirmative relief to plaintiffs and all other persons of their class, whereupon this appeal was taken.

The facts necessary for an understanding of the legal issues raised may be stated as follows: The twelfth legislature, in its first special session, adopted chapter 13, providing for the payment of benefits to unemployed persons. The act is lengthy and sets up many provisions in regard to the collection of contributions from employers and employees, and their payment to unemployed persons. A commission of three members was created by the act to administer it. This commission was given certain powers in regard to administration, some of which were set forth in subdivision (d), supra, as follows:

[54 Ariz. 300] "Personnel. Subject to other provisions of this Act, the commission is authorized to appoint, fix the compensation, and prescribe the duties and powers of such officers, accountants, attorneys, experts, and other persons as may be necessary in the performance of its duties. All positions shall be filled by persons selected and appointed on a non-partisan merit basis. The commission may delegate to any such person so appointed such power and authority as it deems reasonable and proper for the effective administration of this Act, and may in its discretion bond any person handling moneys or signing checks hereunder."

Temporary appointments were made by the commission to fill various positions under it, and with reasonable promptness it established rules and regulations to provide for a permanent filling of these positions on a non-partisan merit basis. These rules and regulations were quite voluminous, and we quote only the portions which are material to the determination of this case.

"Rule II. Statement of Policy.... all appointments shall be made on a non-partisan merit basis, except for emergency and provisional appointments, and positions shall be filled from registers of eligibles established by merit examinations. Examinations shall be conducted according to the provisions of these regulations and shall apply to all positions in the classified service.

"Rule III, section 1. Advisory Committee on Personnel. In order to assure that the merit principle in government as set forth in these regulations shall be applied impartially, with freedom from political influence and with justice to all citizens of the State of Arizona, the Commission shall appoint an Advisory Committee on Personnel.

"The Committee shall be composed of three members, who shall be public spirited persons with recognized standing in the community and a reputation for impartiality. They shall be known to be interested in the improvement of public administration and in the selection of efficient government personnel.

[54 Ariz. 301] "It shall be the duty of the Advisory Committee on Personnel

"(1) To appoint a Supervisor of Examinations, to advise with him in formulating procedures for the conduct of merit examinations, and to inspect and review his activities with the purpose of assuring conformity with the policies contained in these regulations.

"Sec. 2. Supervisor of Merit Examinations. The Supervisor of Examinations shall be a person of recognized standing in the field of personnel or public administration,

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have known sympathies with the merit principle in government service and shall possess such other qualifications as are requisite to performance of the duties of the supervisor hereinafter defined. The Supervisor shall not have served at any time as an employee of the Commission and shall not hold office in any political party.

"In conformance with these regulations, the Supervisor of Examinations shall develop and put into continuous effect policies and procedures for the administration of the merit system. This shall include the preparation, administration and scoring of examinations and the preparation, custody and maintenance of registers of eligibles, and the certifications of eligibles from the registers."

"Rule VI, section 1. Notices of Examinations. The Supervisor of Examinations shall give public announcement of all examinations for entrance into the classified service at least three weeks in advance of the closing date for receipt of applications. Such notice shall be posted in important centers throughout the State and copies shall be distributed among public officials, newspapers, education institutions, professional and vocational societies, and other individuals and organizations. Public announcement of examinations shall specify the title and salary range of the position, the fact that entrance appointments shall be made at the minimum salary rate, the duties to be performed, the minimum qualifications required, the final date on which applications will be received, the relative weights to be given to the ...

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