Danser v. CalPERSAnnotate this Case
During William Danser’s service as a superior court judge, a jury convicted of conspiring to pervert or obstruct justice. The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and placed Danser on probation for three years. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and the California Supreme Court denied review. Months later, the trial court reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor, terminated probation, and granted Danser’s petition to dismiss the criminal charges against him. After the conviction but before sentencing, Danser retired from judicial office. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) subsequently determined that Danser was convicted of a felony offense in the course and scope of his judicial duties and that the conviction became final when the California Supreme Court denied review. CalPERS concluded that under the terms of Danser’s pension plan (the Judges’ Retirement System II (JRS II)) he was subject to benefit forfeiture. CalPERS refunded Danser’s retirement contributions and determined that he was precluded from receiving any retirement benefits from JRS II. Danser challenged the CalPERS forfeiture determination by filing a petition for writ of administrative mandamus, writ of mandate, and other extraordinary relief and damages. The trial court denied the writ petition and entered judgment for CalPERS. On appeal, Danser claimed: (1) the CalPERS forfeiture action was time-barred; (2) CalPERS lacked jurisdiction to determine whether forfeiture occurred in this case; and (3) Danser was not subject to forfeiture of his retirement benefits because there was no final conviction punishable as a felony. The Court of Appeal concluded: (1) Danser’s contention that the CalPERS action was time-barred was forfeited because he did not support it with legal analysis and it was not raised in the administrative hearing; (2) his contention that CalPERS lacked jurisdiction was without merit because CalPERS acted within its authority to interpret applicable retirement law; and (3) Government Code section 75526 was concerned with whether Danser was found guilty of a felony offense and whether that finding of guilt was final (the finding of guilt was final when the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and the California Supreme Court denied review). The Court therefore affirmed the judgment.