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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Court Upholds Pension Board's Rescission of Benefits

An Illinois Appellate Court recently upheld a Pension Board's decision to deny pension benefits to a former police officer based on the officer's felony conviction in Pruente v. Retirement Board of the Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago.

According to the Appellate Court's opinion, a former Chicago police officer was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct for providing false testimony in a narcotics case. The officer's application for pension benefits was initially approved by the Pension Board; however, subsequently the Pension Board rescinded its approval after investigating the felony conviction. The former officer sued, arguing that the Board's rescission of his pension benefits was an "excessive fine" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that the Pension Board violated the Open Meetings Act when it failed to notify him of its initial meeting at which it revoked its approval of his pension.

The Appellate Court ruled in favor of the City, rejecting both of his arguments. First, the Appellate Court held that the officer waived the excessive fine argument because he failed to raise it before the Pension Board. Second, the Court held that any potential Open Meetings Act violation was cured when the Pension Board ratified its decision at a subsequent Board meeting where the officer was in attendance and was represented by counsel who had an opportunity to object to the Board's actions. Finally, the Court rejected the officer's argument that the Board did not have "good cause" to reconsider and rescind its prior approval of his pension benefits.


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