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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New York Judges Order Raises for Themselves

Appellate Division Backs Pay Raise for Judges
The New York Law Journal by Noeleen Walder - June 2, 2009

A state appeals court today unanimously affirmed a lower court order giving the Legislature 90 days to raise the pay of the state’s 1,300 judges. The decision comes one year after Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward H. Lehner held that the Legislature and the governor had “unconstitutionally abused their power” by tying judicial pay raises to unrelated issues, such as campaign reform and legislative pay. Justice Lehner’s order was stayed in July 2008 pending today’s decision by the Appellate Division, First Department.

In a unanimous ruling written by Justice Peter Tom, the panel agreed the Legislature violated the separation of powers doctrine “by reducing the issue of judicial compensation to a tactical weapon” and consequently “subordinat[ing] the status of the Judiciary to that of an inferior governmental entity.”  “Linkage, as employed in these circumstances, manifested an abandonment of any pretense to an objective consideration of judicial compensation unimpeded by extraneous political considerations. These acts and their ramifications necessarily undermine the carefully constructed architecture of New York government,” Justice Tom wrote in Larabee v. Governor, 4761-4761A. The panel affirmed an earlier order dismissing the action against the governor, saying he was not responsible for inaction on the pay hike. The four Larabee plaintiffs also claimed their $136,700 annual salary has been unconstitutionally diminished in light of 30 percent inflation in violation of the compensation clause of the state Constitution. The plaintiffs are Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee, Cattaraugus County Family Court Judge Michael Nenno, Manhattan Civil Court Judge Geoffrey Wright and Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Patricia Nunez. Like Justice Lehner, the First Department rejected that claim. Rather, the appeals panel concluded that the Legislature had violated the separation of powers doctrine “by subordinating the Judiciary to its whims and caprices in matters of salary adjustments.”

Larabee is one of three suits brought over the issue of judicial pay raises. The Third Department last year dismissed Maron v. Silver, 504084, which was filed by current and former judges who also argued that the Legislature’s failure to grant judges a raise since Jan. 1, 1999, amounted to a violation of the compensation clause of the state Constitution and the separation of powers and equal protection doctrines (NYLJ, Nov. 14). In Maron, a 4-1 Third Department panel held that the plaintiffs had “failed to allege a discriminatory attack on the judicial branch that has impaired the Judiciary’s independence and ability to function.”  In a third suit, Kaye v. Silver, 400763/08, former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye claimed that Supreme Court justices’ salaries should be on par with the $169,300 earned annually by federal district court judges. Motions for summary judgment and to dismiss currently are pending in that case before Justice Lehner. Thomas E. Bezanson of Cohen & Gresser, the lead attorney for the four judges in Larabee, praised the First Department panel.  “Today the state can celebrate the vindication of the separation of powers and judicial independence under the state Constitution. It’s a great day for state, Constitution, Judiciary and the people it serves,” Mr. Bezanson said in an interview. In addition to Justice Tom, the First Department panel included Presiding Justice Luis A. Gonzalez and Justices Eugene Nardelli, Karla Moskowitz, and Dianne T. Renwick. The panel heard arguments on Nov. 18.


Broke said...

Talk about timing. Good thing New York State is flush with cash!?! How does this affect the payoffs?!

Anonymous said...

Paterson is cutting back the Mta has no money and you give the clowns in dress more money.
How about Hospital closings the MTA
If everyone that wants a raise now can just sue for it?
Can the workers of Burger King and
McDonalds sue for more money.
They are not Federal Judges.
Reagan broke the air traffic controlers union.
If Paterson does not oppose this on the grounds that the state does not have money, they are not forced to become judges nor are the forced to stay in thier jobs as judges.
If Regan can break the air trafic controlers union than Paterson has to break the judges.
Paterson`s pol numbers could not get anyworst. I Dave cave into the judges I hope all unions that were forced to eat it do not support him. Paterson might be make (D)history being that unions will not support a double standard for judges and everyone else.

Anonymous said...

It would only be fair to have a similar increase in the kickbacks and payoffs to the corrupt judges. What's fair is fair. Inflation, you know...

Anonymous said...

What the heck?

Didn't the U.S. Supreme Court already rule on this issue when it decided the same thing for Federal Judges.

It seem clear that NY Judges just make this stuff up.

But we knew this anyway.

Anonymous said...

Are the pay offs and kick backs also going to be raise?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the standard now used the same one when the judges raised their hands to take their oath of office?

I loved that one about the 'inferior entities'. That will get a hoot.

I remember years back that DA Frank Hogan said that his chief assistant Al Scotti made more money than he did as the DA's compensation was tied to that of the judges.

He wasn't complaining because while he may have thought it made no sense that his chief made more than he did, he took that job knowing that.

The appellate court should be ashamed of themselves for issuing this decision. If they don't like the law then they should get it changed in a lawful way.

Why do these people fight so hard to get a job they will later say doesn't pay enough?

I wonder what the court has to say about pattern bargainning with the NYC workers, and a cop's salary has to be related to a clerk's salary?

Anonymous said...

This is a prime example of what OCA does... they make laws to suit their many needs....the sole purpose of their own "abuse of power" counsel's office.
They are undeserving..all of them...the crooked ones are just that and the non-crooked one refuse to come forward.
Times are supposed to be tough in NY state with Paterson taxing or fining everything we own or touch.....from cows farts to riding without bicycle helmets in the park. Spending has increased in NY since this rapist budget...and these judicial raises are needed to appropriately enforce all the new laws Paterson inflicted upon now the money collected from us.... the citizens.... just gets recycled into the political corruption that brought us here.
And they think we are stupid...we just cannot remove the scum embedded in NY offices for millions of Silver!

Bronx guy said...

I say dock them for all the work they don't do. That way they would owe the taxpayers money. Screw them the way they screw everyone.

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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
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