PEABODY, MASS. >> The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state to revoke the pension of a retired Peabody police lieutenant convicted of job-related misdemeanors.

The Supreme Judicial Court in its ruling Wednesday said denying Edward Bettencourt his pension is an excessive fine that's unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

Bettencourt was convicted of using a department computer to check the civil service scores of other officers, including some he was in competition with for a promotion.

Under state pension law, public employees convicted of job-related crimes face the loss of their pension.

Bettencourt's lawyer said the ruling shows that "public employees have constututional rights with respect to their pensions."

The head of the state's public employee pension administration says it "sends a chilling message to the general public."