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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bill Presented to Prohibit Payment to Judges

Assembly Member Offers Bill to Prohibit Payments to Judges
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - February 1, 2011

ALBANY, NY - Calling payments to judges of up to $10,000 a year for life insurance, new robes, home Internet access and other judicial expenses a form of "backdoor compensation," a state legislator has introduced a bill to block payouts from the Judicial Supplemental Support Fund. Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-New Windsor, introduced legislation, A2873, that would prohibit reimbursement from the fund created in 2009 by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to alleviate the strain on judges who have not had a raise since 1999. "By creating a mechanism for judges to be reimbursed for certain expenses, the Chief Judge has engaged in a form of backdoor compensation," according to the bill's accompanying memorandum. "However, it is the Legislature's prerogative to determine judicial salaries. This legislation reaffirms the Legislature's authority on this issue." The Calhoun bill does not have a sponsor within the Democratic majority in the Assembly, nor a sponsor from either party in the Senate. It has been referred to the Assembly's Judiciary Committee.

"I don't think it will have any support in the Legislature," Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview during last week's annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association in Manhattan. "In my opinion, it doesn't take into account the suffering that judges have had in 12 years of not having a pay increase. I think it's in a vacuum. I respect the Legislature and their right to put in a bill, but I don't see any impetus behind this except for the individual legislator." Ms. Calhoun did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. The fund initially provided $5,000 per judge per year. It was doubled to $10,000 beginning in April 2010 (NYLJ, Oct. 15, 2009). The assemblywoman noted that the state could save $12 million in the next year by stopping the payouts. The 2011-12 budget is expected to be an extremely tight one. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will publicly outline the spending plan, his first as governor, today. Last year, Governor David A. Paterson and legislative leaders agreed to cut $18 million from the court system's $2.7 billion budget beginning April 1, 2010. In a commentary on the judiciary's 2010-11 state budget proposal, Mr. Paterson said there appeared to be few controls over what kinds of spending would be reimbursed from the fund (NYLJ, Jan. 20, 2010). The Legislature eliminated the appropriation, but Ann Pfau, the state's chief administrative judge, said court leaders would find the $12 million elsewhere because of the importance to Judge Lippman and the judges of the supplemental income program (NYLJ, April 28, 2010).

Judge Lippman's $2.7 billion judiciary budget proposal for fiscal 2011-12, which begins on April 1, again includes the $12 million appropriation. Judge Pfau said that if the fund was again targeted this year, it would be maintained for at least another year. Judge Lippman said late last week that he believes the Legislature has now accepted the case for higher judicial pay. Late last year, lawmakers voted to create a commission to meet once every four years to set new judicial pay levels based on several factors, including inflationary increases, what federal and other state judges earn, and the state's ability to afford pay raises (NYLJ, Dec. 1). Members of the commission are to be appointed by April 1, and if they recommend a pay adjustment it would go into effect on April 1, 2012. Judge Lippman has said he would reconsider the need for the supplemental fund once a pay raise is approved. Helene Weinstein, the chairwoman of the Assembly's Judiciary Committee, said creation of the commission and its charge of considering "salary and non-salary" compensation makes the issue raised by Ms. Calhoun's bill superfluous. "There's no reason for the Legislature to look at this issue this year," Ms. Weinstein, D-Brooklyn, said in an interview. The state bar's Judicial Section on Saturday awarded Peter Kiernan, Mr. Paterson's former counsel, an award for helping shepherd the judicial pay commission bill through the Legislature as Mr. Paterson's tenure came to a close. Joel Stashenko can be contacted at


angry and determined said...

Give the good judges a big fat raise.
Give the bad judges a small dirty cell.
Start by getting rid of Lippman and Tembeckjian.
Then everything else will fall into place.

The people of New York have had it with a completely corrupt judicial system. Yes, even judges have had it with a completely corrupt judicial system.

Anonymous said...

It is compensation. Just like every other civil service position which gets this type of money.

The only difference, is that uniform money is a negotiated benefit that is part of a contract.

A more important question is where is the authorized salary for the position of "Acting Supreme Court Justice"?

Can't find that job listed anywhere.

Anyone know where to find it?

Anonymous said...

There is a big mistake in this article.

Pfau, is not a Judge. She is an "Acting Supreme Court Justice."

Fact check please.

Anonymous said...

How about a Bill to force Robert Tembeckjian to leave the state of NY.

Anonymous said...

Will Andy,this afternoon, in his budget spread the cuts to his bloated lawyer/judge cronies, while he tells the serfs they need to go on a diet? Who determines judges pay and compensation, Andy?
Andy, when you feed pigs, they get fatter and only want more. Andy's message to the serfs, they'll be shared sacrifice equally among all of you and less to eat, so that your enlightened leaders can have more so they plan your future.
"Some pigs are more equal than other pigs." "Sacrifice for your leaders, is noble and required." "We will be vicars for your happiness."

Anonymous said...


Jail$4Judge$ said...

Do the right thing! Lock all the bum$ up, NOW!!! And then take their PEN$ION$ away from them and their familie$ and girl friend$!!! It's only right!!!

Anonymous said...

Put them all in jail including Judge Francis Nicolai for fixing child custody case for the sexual exploitation of children.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't someone put up "WANTED" posters for the most corrupt Judges. They are "WANTED' for high crimes against the people and should be fired without a pension.

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