Posts tagged "Garney"

Garney v. Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-143-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11493 RONALD T. GARNEY  vs.  MASSACHUSETTS TEACHERS’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM. Worcester.     April 10, 2014. – August 18, 2014.   Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.[1] Retirement.  Public Employment, Forfeiture of retirement benefits.  School and School Committee, Retirement benefits.     Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on January 14, 2010.   The case was heard by John S. McCann, J., on motions for judgment on the pleadings.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.   Robert G. Fabino (James H. Salvie, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him) for the defendant. Michael C. Donahue for the plaintiff.     CORDY, J.  This case concerns the scope of the pension forfeiture requirement of G. L. c. 32, § 15 (4), and specifically whether forfeiture is warranted where a teacher has engaged in criminal activity that endangers children generally, but does not involve the students whom he taught, the school district for which he worked, or the use of his status as a teacher.  The plaintiff, Ronald T. Garney, a ninth grade science teacher, was arrested in 2006 for the purchase and possession of child pornography.  Shortly after his arrest, he received notice that he would be dismissed from his position for conduct unbecoming a teacher and resigned prior to his dismissal.  He subsequently pleaded guilty to purchasing and possessing child pornography.  In August, 2007, when he reached retirement age, Garney filed a retirement application with the defendant, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS), and received retirement benefits until 2009, when the MTRS board (board) issued a decision concluding that Garney’s benefits were forfeited by operation of G. L. c. 32, § 15 (4), due to his convictions.[2]  A District Court judge affirmed the board’s decision, and Garney petitioned for certiorari review in the Superior Court pursuant to G. L. c. 249, § 4.  A Superior Court judge reversed the decision of the District Court and vacated the decision of the board.  MTRS appealed, and we transferred its appeal to this court on our own motion. Although cognizant of the severity of the offenses of which Garney was convicted, we conclude that on the specific facts of this case, those offenses neither directly involved his position as a teacher nor contravened a particular law applicable to that position, and therefore did not come within the forfeiture provision of […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm

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