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Saturday, December 1, 2012
New York Judges Disgraced Again
Before early 2012, all New York State Supreme Court Judges endured a thankless 13-year period with no pay increase. On October 15th, the state’s 1,200-plus justices officially learned that they would no longer receive money they had come to rely on- a $10,000 yearly stipend.
The $10,000 stipend, court administrators have explained, was only a “temporary accommodation,” to help the judges through the time, since 1999, that they experienced a vast reduction in their net income purchasing power.
Make-Believe Raise An Insult
The judges’ 27% “raise” was structured to be phased in over a three-year period, from $136,700 to $160,000 in 2012, and to $167,000 in 2013. On April 1, 2014, the full 27% “increase” is realized, topping at $174,000.
On January 1, 1999, the judges received their last raise, a 21% increase. The current “increase” is expected to cost $50 million per year.
Many judges have called their “raise” an insult as it completely fails to satisfy any component of a true pay increase, or any real offset as to the cost-of-living, over the 13-year period.
Those who preside over New York’s trial courts have significantly less purchasing power with their “increase,” and disagree with Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s characterization that the judicial pay ‘nightmare’ is over. The issue of inflation was also never substantively dealt with, and the nightmare continues for the judges.
The judges almost received a raise in the 2007-2008 budget but then-Governor Eliot Spitzer attempted to tie it to ethics reform and both measures were never voted on.
$2.5 Billion Mess
The New York Court system is a $2.5 billion machine and is not subject to the Governor’s zero-budget increase directive.
Instead of cutting waste and fraud in the court system machine, or paying judges a fair salary, administrators have been busy with other priorities.
In February of 2011, it was revealed that tens of millions of dollars were being spent on a suite of seven 400-square-foot apartments for the personal use of judges sitting on the Court of Appeals.
The $23 million renovation of the 27,000-square-foot, 113-year-old building included cherry furniture costing over $350,000.
In addition to an understandably unhappy judiciary, court administrators have also effectively reduced the take-home pay of its court officers by drastically reducing over-time opportunities. Over the years, a large percentage of court officers have relied on overtime to make ends meet.
Justice is now thrown to the wind as all court personnel scramble to close courtrooms by 4:30pm. Justice past 4:30pm is rare- usually when a witness is on the stand, for example- and onerous procedures waste the time of direct supervisors.
The judges have also faced a four-fold increase in the cost of their health insurance deductible. The New York Law Journal quotes a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, John Barone, as saying, “A lot of judges regard it as unconstitutional because it diminishes the compensation of a judge, and they have a good point.”
The inability of court administrators to fairly deal with judicial compensation has brought numerous lawsuits by judges against New York State. One pending lawsuit was brought by six current or former judges and seeks $51 million in retroactive pay.
In January of 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his anger with administrators of New York’s Court system after a budget was submitted that called for $84 million in additional spending and mentioned the closing of some courts.
Governor Cuomo may want to consider calling on all court personnel, including the folks that wear the black robes, to directly report to the Governor’s office any instance of waste and fraud within the court system.
Governor Cuomo may be the only person who can get our state judges fairly compensated.
Posted by Corrupt Courts Administrator at 11:24 PM
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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'Sex Scandal at Attorney Ethics Committee'
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'NY Attorney pleads guilty to federal felony; Gets law license back'