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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Judge orders raises for New York judges

Judge Orders Pay Raise for State Bench
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - June 11, 2008

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward H. Lehner today gave the Legislature and Governor David A. Paterson 90 days to adjust the pay of the state’s 1,300 judges to reflect the rise in the cost of living since their last raise nearly 10 years ago. Justice Lehner found that the Legislature and the governor had “unconstitutionally abused their power” by neglecting to raise judicial pay. He concluded in Larabee v. Governor, 112301/07, that the executive and legislative branches had violated the separation of powers doctrine by linking judicial pay to extraneous legislative issues such as raises for the legislators themselves and campaign finance reform. While the lawsuit was brought by individual judges and is not a class action, Justice Lehner noted that “it has at all times been recognized by the parties that the issue with respect to constitutionality affects all members of the judiciary who are part of the Unified Court System.” Justice Lehner also ordered the defendants to include “an appropriate provision for retroactivity.” The Legislature and governor are to proceed in “good faith,” he wrote, inviting the four judges who brought the lawsuit to seek additional relief if an adequate remedy is not in place within 90 days. The ruling represented a sweeping victory for the judges. The plaintiffs, with the support of their judicial associations, contend that the cost of living has increased 30 percent since the state’s judges received their last pay raise in January 1999. According to data they submitted, that would have Supreme Court justices boosted to a salary of $175,264 in 2007. They now receive $136,700.

The four Larabee plaintiffs—Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee, Cattaraugus County Family Court Judge Michael Nenno, Manhattan Civil Court Judge Geoffrey Wright, and Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Patricia Nunez—claim that a retroactivity award would entitle them collectively to $651,000. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye has filed a separate lawsuit seeking to compel a pay raise to make the salaries of state judges comparable to those paid to federal district court judges, retroactive to April 1, 2005 at a total cost of $148 million. Under that formulation, the salaries of Supreme Court justices would be raised to $169,300 a year and the salaries of judges sitting in other courts would be adjusted proportionately. Chief Judge Kaye’s suit, Kaye v. Silver, 40076/08, has also been assigned to Justice Lehner. Yesterday, the Legislature and governor filed a motion to dismiss that case using many of the same arguments as the attorney general’s office used against the claims in Larabee. A third pay action, Maron v. Silver, 4108/07, is pending in the Appellate Division, Third Department. New York’s judges have gone longer without a pay raise than the judges in any other state in the nation. Since 1999, the value of their salaries, when cost-of-living is taken into account, has slipped to 49th in the nation. —Daniel Wise can be reached at

********************** THE AP REPORT ****************************************

Judge orders raises for New York judges
Associated Press - Last updated: 2:09 p.m., Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NEW YORK -- A judge has ordered New York's governor, Senate and Assembly to raise the pay of the state's judges within the next 90 days. State Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner in Manhattan says the defendants unconstitutionally abused their power by depriving judges of a pay hike for almost 10 years. He says state legislators illegally linked a judicial salary increase to one for themselves. Lehner has ordered the state to raise judicial pay to reflect cost of living increases since 1998. He was ruling on a lawsuit brought by four judges and acknowledges he would be affected by his own decision. Chief Judge Judith Kaye is leading a different lawsuit against the Legislature to secure raises. But she has warned judges not to protest through action from the bench.


Anonymous said...

Didn't see this one coming.

Anonymous said...

shocking a judge ordering more pay for judges. Why not doing a trial by jury? Instead of having the fox ordering the slaudering of more hens.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me...but how can a STATE judge rule on something that is obviously a conflict of interest, because it includes a raise for him also! He also states that there is abuse of power in the judicial raise denial?!
I want the record to reflect, that this taxpayer and NY citizen, says his ruling is invalid due to those conflicts! Also, I am a continuous victim OF "OCA'S" ABUSE OF POWER... which has been a common event for many years.... IN BOTH CRIMINAL AND CIVIL ACTIONS. I am extremely aware that they use this abuse of power constantly, as a method in there daily operations!
Since my case is already in FEDERAL COURT, I will deal with both issues there and we shall see what boundaries this typical NY STATE JUDGE, has manifested as a politically abusive judge... himself!
I hope the media creates a big stink about these very issues and this freak in a robe, gets overturned! Make the people of NY STATE aware immediately, and handcuff judy kaye until it is revoked!

Anonymous said...

a blatant conflict of interest, Judge Edward H. Lehner will benefit directly from this action. Justice demands that he be impeached and disbarred. Kaye fixed this whole thing by shopping for a "friendly" Judge. Gov Patterson should clean house and fire Kaye and all the corrupt Judges. From the get go this belonged in Federal Court, any attorney worth his salt know that.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

i think it time they start random drug and alcohol testing of judges and lawyers.
What a conflict of interest.
Being that the judge himself would finacialy gain from the pay increase he could not make a decision. That proves that judges in New York have to dealt with by the Federal Goverment taking action against that judge.
Thier has to be something maybe under the Rico Law

Lawyers ask why people do not like them? after 6-1/2 years of collage they can not figure out why
ask anyone out thier how much of a pay raise have they gotten.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Governor is shaking in his boots.

Did anybody testify in opposition to this motion?

I can think of a few people who have good reasons why many judges should not get a raise.

Anonymous said...

E-mailed the governor to express my gross disgust with the NY judiciary! Whether he responds or not is irrelevent..just want it for the record! Also, I wanted to see if he filed his lawsuit for political effect or taxpayer purpose!

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