The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois’ Supreme Court has upheld a decision based on a technicality to reinstate a deputy who was fired in 2012, which means the Cook County Sheriff’s Office may also have to rehire and reimburse millions of dollars of back pay to hundreds of deputies.

The case called into question the firing of more than 250 deputies over a four-year period. An attorney for one of the fired deputies told the Tribune that the officers will not only have to be re-hired and given back pay, but the sheriff’s office will also be “legally barred from trying to fire them again for the same offenses.”

Court cases were filed because an error in the appointment of a merit board member may have voided the panel’s hiring, firing and promotional decisions over a four-year period. Officer Percy Taylor was fired in 2012 and he filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office in 2013. Taylor won the case, and a Cook County judge ordered the sheriff to pay him back wages and reverse his dismissal.

When Taylor was fired in 2012, John Rosales was appointed to the merit board a year earlier for a one-year term, even though the board did not have the authority to appoint him for anything less than a six-year term. Rosales was never reappointed yet remained on the board and contributed to its decisions through 2015, according to court records. This board conducted many disciplinary proceedings. He then left the board after being appointed to the Illinois Commerce Commission by the Governor.

The sheriff appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the high court declined to hear arguments, meaning the appellate court ruling stands.

Among some of the deputies that were fired during that period and may be reinstated is Rico Palomino, who was caught punching a detainee unprovoked on video in 2012. He was convicted of felony official misconduct and aggravated battery in 2015, when he was fired.

Hirings and promotions during that period may also come under fire. The sheriff’s office is consulting the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to determine their next steps.

*Photo credit Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune