The Supreme Court today denied review in Hipsher v. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, where, in a published opinion, the Second District, Division Four, Court of Appeal upheld as constitutional a provision of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 that reduced retirement benefits because of a felony conviction.

The Court of Appeal opinion followed a remand from the Supreme Court.  An earlier Hipsher decision and three other appellate opinions had been grant-and-holds that were either transferred for reconsideration or had review dismissed in light of last year’s decision in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Association v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association.  (See here.)  In 2019, the court decided a different pension case, Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Both Alameda County and Cal Fire upheld Reform Act statutes that limit pension liability to public employees who started their jobs before the Act’s passage.

The 2020 transfers and review dismissals, and today’s denial of review in Hipsher, show the Supreme Court is not in a hurry to address unanswered questions involving the Reform Act.  One open issue is the continued validity of the “California Rule,” which generally requires that adverse effects on pension rights be offset by comparable positive effects.

But the court will have at least one more opportunity to opine on pension reform.  Yesterday, another retiree filed a petition for review, this one in Wilmot v. Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association, a case where, like Hipsher, the Court of Appeal issued a second opinion after remand for reconsideration in light of Alameda County.