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Saturday, August 27, 2011

New York Judges Get Pay Increase

Commission Raises N.Y. Judges’ Pay 27% Over 3 Years
The New York Times by William Glaberson  -  August 26, 2011

A state commission decided on Friday to increase the pay of the more than 1,200 New York State judges by 27 percent over three years, ending a decade of battles in Albany and the courts, and giving judges their first raise in 12 years.  The seven-member commission, appointed by the leaders of all three branches of government, had been expected to grant a raise. Still, the amount it settled on was considered very modest — and some judges even expressed bitter disappointment.  The commission voted 4 to 3 to approve the increase, with its members sharply divided in a brief meeting in Lower Manhattan that included accusations of political grandstanding. The dissenters said the raises were too small.  Over years of legislative and legal struggles on the judicial-pay issue, New York’s judges, once among the best paid nationally, slipped to being among the lowest paid.  The increase was small compared with some proposed ones that had called for judicial raises across the court system of as much as 60 percent.  The commission was created under a bill passed last year to try to resolve one of the most contentious and long-stalled issues in state government. “This is a start at correcting the injustice that has been done to New York State’s judiciary over more than a decade of neglect,” said the commission’s chairman, William C. Thompson Jr., the former New York City comptroller.  But Mr. Thompson and other members of the commission also said that the fragile state economy required restraint. Under the commission’s decision, the highest level of trial judges in the state, the justices of the State Supreme Court, would receive an increase to $174,000 from the current $136,700, phased in over three years. That would match the salary of United States District Court judges. The raises for all the judges would cost the state about $50 million a year when they are fully implemented.  The creation of the commission was an effort to minimize political fallout from what was likely to be an unpopular decision in a time of budget cutbacks.  The three commission members appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were joined in voting for the proposal by the appointee of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who, like the governor, is a Democrat. The two appointees of the state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, opposed it as inadequate, as did the appointee of the leader of the State Senate, Dean G. Skelos, a Republican. The Cuomo administration had expressed concern about a large judicial pay raise, so it was not unexpected that the governor’s appointees would limit the increase.  The raises will go into effect next spring unless they are overruled or modified by legislation passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor. Mr. Thompson said he hoped the size of the increase would dissuade the Legislature and the governor from seeking to overturn the decision, which he said would be “disastrous” for the judiciary.

The commission’s decision would govern judicial pay for four years, after which time another commission would revisit the issue. The pay increase would apply to judges from low-level courts like New York City Civil Court and Criminal Court to the members of the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.  The salary of Supreme Court justices had been viewed as a benchmark, with the commission agreeing to keep in place the relative differences in pay across a complex state court system with many pay levels.  The salary of judges in Criminal Court who earn $125,600, for example, would increase proportionally over the next three years, to $160,100. The salary of the chief judge of the state would go from $156,000 to $198,600.  Judges have argued that the pay stagnation forced some judges to leave the bench. On Friday, some judges said the decision would amplify dissatisfaction in the judiciary. “I think it’s very demoralizing,” said Judge Margaret Parisi McGowan of Queens Family Court.  Phillip R. Rumsey, president of the state association of Supreme Court justices, said the salary levels in New York “will continue to reflect the low regard that other branches of state government apparently have for the judiciary.”  Judge Lippman said that he was disappointed that the raise was not larger and that it would be phased in over three years.  Judge Lippman was deeply involved in the plan to create the commission and said at the time that it was the “holy grail” to remove negotiations over judicial salaries from the political process. Asked Friday if the decision was a setback, Judge Lippman said the commission had been successful because it ended with a pay increase at a time of economic crisis.  “We live in the real world,” he said. “We see what’s happening in Washington and in our own state. We see what’s happening in the stock market.”  The commission had always appeared divided 3 to 3 over how generous an increase would be, with Mr. Silver’s appointee, James Tallon Jr., a former Democratic member of the Assembly, holding the decisive seventh vote. The increase that was approved, Mr. Tallon said Friday, “balances all of the factors that are out there, including an economy that has tanked.”  But in a switch of usual roles, in which Republicans criticize Democrats for spending, Mark S. Mulholland, Mr. Skelos’s appointee, criticized Mr. Tallon.  Mr. Mulholland said the Republican-controlled Senate stood with the judges in seeking higher pay. He said that by bringing the salaries of State Supreme Court justices to $174,000 instead of $190,000 or higher, the state would be continuing what he called its neglect of the judiciary. He said he was “disappointed” that Mr. Tallon had “not seen fit to close ranks with me.” One of Mr. Cuomo’s appointees, Richard B. Cotton, criticized Mr. Mulholland, a Long Island lawyer, saying it was “highly unfortunate to inject scoring political points into this discussion.”  Asked about the comments, Mr. Silver said he had not spoken to Mr. Tallon about his vote, adding that “an independent commission was created to take the decision away from the Legislature and away from political finger-pointing.”

---------------------------------RELATED STORY:

Judges get pay increase
The Albany Times Union by Robert Gavin  -  August 27, 2011
Fatter paychecks offer "mixed bag" after jurists see 12-year drought end

ALBANY, NY -- New York judges are finally getting a raise.  Just not the one many of them wanted.  A special state commission voted 4 to 3 Friday to phase in 27.3 percent pay hikes over a three-year period to increase the salaries of the state's more than 1,200 judges for the first time since Jan. 1, 1999.  Supreme Court justices, who now earn $136,700 annually, will make $160,000 next April 1. On April 1, 2013 it will increase to $167,000. On April 1, 2014, it will peak at $174,000.  Judges who earn more and less than Supreme Court justices will see proportional increases.  Judges and their supporters have asked that their salaries be increased to account for inflation since 1999, which would have hiked the pay of Supreme Court justices to $195,754. They have noted that while federal district judges earn $174,000, those jurists have not had their own cost-of-living adjustment in two years.  "I think it's a mixed bag," Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said Friday.  Lippman made judicial pay raises his top priority after being confirmed by the state Senate in February 2009. He said the raises will place New York on a rational par with what judges earn in other states.  "We are pleased that, even in these terrible economic times that judges are finally getting raises," Lippman said. "On the other hand, we are disappointed that the judges were not whole for the 13 years of suffering they endured when every other employee of the state received a more than 40 percent increase over those years."  He said without Special Commission on Judicial Compensation pay raises would not have been on any agenda given a horrific economic climate with foreclosures and evictions.  State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III said he is concerned about the size of the increase, terming it "relatively modest."  The wage stagnation threatens to undermine the judiciary by making it harder to attract talented judges, Doyle added.  The seven-member panel included three appointees of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one appointee each from the Senate and Assembly and two chosen by Lippman.  Voting for the increases were Cuomo appointee and commission chairman Bill Thompson and Cuomo-picked members William Mulrow and Rick Cotton. James Talon, an appointee of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also voted for it.  Voting against it were Lippman appointees Robert Fiske Jr. and Kathryn Wylde and Mark Mulholland, an appointee of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Nassau County Republican.  Lippman said his appointees sought bigger raises for judges.  The vote, which was in New York City, ends a tumultuous fight. Some judges said they had been forced from the bench by the need to make more money.  Lippman's predecessor, Judith Kaye, sued then-Gov. David Paterson and legislative leaders for higher pay. She blasted the pay drought as "shameful." At her final Law Day in 2008, Kaye said it was "dimmer" and "less lustrous" than in the past, adding, "It's just a very sad thing when you have to sue partners in government."  At that event, Cuomo, then attorney general, assumed the podium and supported pay increases as a citizen, avoiding a formal position.  "That our judges have (gone) so long without a pay raise is systemic of the disrespect for public service that is now so prevalent," he said at the time.  On July 20, when the commission held a hearing in Albany, the Cuomo administration and judges were not on the same page. The governor's budget director, Robert Megna, ruled out some proposed pay hikes as unaffordable.  He said any hike would need to be "rational and fair," stressing it was "imperative that any salary increase can be justified in the current system."  Reach Gavin at  518-434-2403 or

---------------------------------RELATED STORY:

Special commission votes to raise NY judges’ pay
The New York Post  -  August 26, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. — A special commission on Friday voted to give state Supreme Court judges a 27 percent pay raise over three years, the first wage increase for the judiciary since 1999.  Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview that it’s a good compromise in hard economic times.  “Are we disappointed it wasn’t more? Yes,” said Lippman, who advocated for the raises. “Would we want it sooner? Yes. But in these terrible times, are we pleased judges are getting raises? You bet.”  State Supreme Court judges operating in counties statewide are now paid $136,700 a year. Under Friday’s decision, they would be paid $160,000 next year, $167,000 in 2013 and $174,000 in 2014.  That would bring the state judges to the pay grades of U.S. district judges.  Other state judges’ salaries would rise by similar margins.  The state Bar Association felt the raises were too small.  “During the past 12 years, the cost of living increased by 40 percent, eroding judicial salaries,” said Vincent E. Doyle III, president of the lawyers’ group. Yet “judges’ salaries will have risen 27 percent over a 15-year period, far less than the projected inflation rate.”  The 27 percent raise over three years for a government job comes as unions agree to no raises to avoid layoffs. But the judges have done without raises while other public workers received annual bumps of 4 percent or more with cost-of-living increases. This will be the first raise for 1,200 state judges in a dozen years.  The commission, created a year ago by then-Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature, sought to find a way to break the gridlock in providing raises to judges. For years, the Legislature tied judges’ raises to those for lawmakers, which proved to be a politically dicey proposition for legislators running for office every two years.  The commission was created to take politics out of the issue. It could still be undone by an act of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature.  The commission included members appointed by the Assembly and Senate leaders, the governor and Lippmann

---------------------------------RELATED STORY:

Panel recommends raise for judges: 27 percent salary hike would phase in over 3 years
The Journal News by Jon Campbell  -  August 27, 2011

ALBANY, NY — A state panel on Friday recommended phasing in a 27 percent pay hike for state judges over the next three years, which would give jurists their first salary increase in more than 12 years.  Under the state Special Commission on Judicial Pay’s plan, which will formally be released Monday, state Supreme Court judges would have their annual pay bumped up to $160,000 in April 2012, with $7,000 raises to follow in each of the following two years.  That salary would put them in line in 2014 with federal district court judges, who make $174,000 annually. State Supreme Court judges currently earn $136,700.  Other judges in the state courts system, such as county court judges, whose salaries range from $119,800 to $136,700, would see their salaries rise by the same percentage over the three years.  The commission approved the proposal by a 4-3 vote in a meeting in New York City. The recommendations will be law unless the state Legislature and governor decide to overturn the raises before April 1, when the new salaries would take effect.  “I think the message we’re trying to send is yes, we care about our state’s judiciary, but there’s a larger world,” said Bill Thompson, former New York City comptroller and chairman of the commission. “It’s a difficult balance where we’re at right now.”  The commission was created last year to take on the contentious issue of judicial pay and issue an appropriate raise for the roughly 1,300 state judges. With appointees from all three branches of government, the panel began its discussions last April.  State judges, who hadn’t seen a raise since 1999, had long called for a raise, saying that New York’s pay rate pales in comparison to the federal government or other states, and it was making it difficult to recruit lawyers to the bench.

Robert Megna, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director, had urged the commission to use caution, saying that issuing a raise of 40 percent or more — as some judicial groups had been calling for — could throw the state’s precarious finances “out of whack.”  On Friday, Megna said the Cuomo administration was reviewing the pay hike and had no immediate comment.  Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman called the pay raise a “glass half-empty/half-full situation.”  “I’m pleased that even in these terrible economic times judges are getting raises that they so richly deserve, and I’m pleased that on April 1, New York state judges’ salaries will at least have some rational relationship to other states, to federal judges, to the private sector,” Lippman said. “But at the same time, I’m disappointed that after close to 13 years without even a cost-of-living adjustment that judges didn’t get an even more significant raise.”  Lippman also said he would have rather seen the full 27 percent raise implemented immediately, rather than annual raises spread out through April 2013.  The raises come as other state employees are being asked to freeze their salaries as New York grapples with its own budget woes. The Civil Service Employees Association this month agreed to a five-year contract that includes no pay raises for the first three years.

The courts also this year laid off about 370 employees as its cut its own budget by 6 percent.  The raises were “upsetting,” said Ellen Chorba, whose husband, Glen Chorba, was laid off after 24 years as a Rockland County court officer. She has launched a campaign to have her husband reinstated, saying if the state can spend millions on judicial raises, they should be able to hire back workers who lost their jobs. “It has a devastating impact for those of us who are watching our salaries go to raises,” she said. “What’s never taken into consideration is what’s fair for the people who don’t have a salary now.”  The New York State Bar Association, however, said the raises wouldn’t be enough to attract top talent.  “Judicial pay scales should not be so inadequate that they encourage top judges to resign or deter highly qualified attorneys from seeking judgeships,” Bar Association President Vincent Doyle said.  Previously, the state Legislature had to approve of raises for the judiciary, and lawmakers’ raises had been tied to raises for judges. The panel separated that link; lawmakers haven’t had a raise since 1999, either.  Under the law, a new commission will be appointed every four years to consider judicial pay, though the Legislature could still block any raises.  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said in a statement the commission acted as it was intended and made an independent decision. But the statement didn’t indicate whether the Assembly would support the raises.  “An independent commission was created to take the decision away from the Legislature and away from political finger-pointing,” Silver said in a statement. There was no immediate reaction from the Republican-led Senate. The seven commission members were split Friday on the formal proposal, with three — Mark Mulholland, Robert Fiske, and Kathryn Wylde — voting against it. Mulholland said the raises didn’t go far enough, while Wylde said the raises were reasonable, but that she was concerned it didn’t send the right message to judges. Fiske said he didn’t support the phased-in approach. Lippman appointed both Fiske and Wylde, while Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, appointed Mulholland.

---------------------------------RELATED STORY:

Staged Raise of 27% Is Endorsed for Judges
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko  -  August 29, 2011

A special pay commission voted 4-3 on Friday to gradually over the next three years raise the $136,700 salary of State Supreme Court justices to $174,000. The raise was considerably less than the immediate increase of $192,000 to $220,000 that had been supported by court administrators, judges, bar groups and others, who expressed disappointment. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, while acknowledging that some judges will be unhappy, said that the judges still are in line for "significant" pay boosts.  A special pay commission voted 4-3 on Friday to gradually raise the $136,700 salary of state Supreme Court justices to the $174,000 now earned by federal district judges.  The state justices would earn $160,000 as of April 1, 2012; $167,000 as of April 1, 2013; and $174,000 as of April 1, 2014. Pay for other judges would be raised by the same percentages as Supreme Court justices, or by 17 percent in the first year and 27 percent for the entire three years.  The raise was considerably less than the substantial and immediate increase of between $192,000 to $220,000 that had been supported by court administrators, judges, bar groups and others. Under the proposal, there would be no raise at all in 2015.  Judges and bar groups expressed disappointment at the size of the proposed raises, the first since Jan. 1, 1999, for the state's 1,200 judges.  "I think we got stiffed," said Albany County Family Court Judge W. Dennis Duggan, who lobbied for a salary of $192,500 for Supreme Court justices and comparable increases for other judges on behalf of 12 judicial associations.  "It is a terribly disappointing outcome for judges, a complete defeat," he said. "This puts our salary at a cost-of-living adjusted level at around 2006. I understand that these are terrible times, but they found money to give raises to everyone else for the past 13 years. It is just a sad day for judges."

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who pushed hard for the establishment of the commission last year, acknowledged that some judges will be unhappy at the panel's action. But he said that the judges still are in line for "significant" pay boosts. He also stressed that a mechanism has been established to pave the way for future raises without depending on the Legislature and the governor.  "I think this is, for the next four years, what it is," Judge Lippman said in an interview Friday. "We have broken this horrible, horrendous string of no-raises."  By law, the raises recommended Friday will go into effect automatically unless the Legislature and the governor specifically act to block them.  Former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., chairman of the commission, said at Friday's meeting that the panel's majority would have preferred to give more money to the judges.  But given the state's grim economic reality, he said that the commission could not endorse raises so large as to encourage the Legislature and the governor to repudiate its work.  "I think the members of this commission understand that we might not be…the final word on judicial raises," Mr. Thompson said. "Our decision will be reviewed by the Legislature and the governor and if it's felt that it is too out of line with the fiscal realities it could be overturned, and I think that would be disastrous to a Judiciary that has waited for over a decade for raises."  He added that had the commission been formed four or five years ago, when the state government was in better condition, there would have been few objections to a $190,000 salary.  The plan calls for no retroactive raises or automatic cost-of-living adjustments. Nor does it revise the relationship of the salaries of different kinds of judges.

The final recommendation was put forward by Mr. Thompson on Friday, after he said he had talked to other commission members.  Mr. Thompson and Mr. Cuomo's two other appointees to the commission, William Mulrow, an investment adviser with Blackstone, and Richard Cotton, general counsel of NBC-Universal, all voted for the recommendation. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's appointee, health care executive and former Assembly Democratic majority leader James Tallon, also voted for the recommendation.  Judge Lippman's two selections, Robert Fiske Jr. of Davis, Polk & Wardwell, and Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, voted against the recommendation as did Mark S. Mulholland of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale, the pick of Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  Mr. Fiske said Supreme Court justices should get immediate raises to at least $195,000 a year. He estimated that Supreme Court justices have each lost $330,000 from not receiving raises that kept pace with inflation, which has run at about 42 percent since 1999. At the same time, he said that the state has saved $550 million.  Ms. Wylde said she did not find the numbers proposed by Mr. Thompson to be unreasonable given the state of the economy. But she worried they were inadequate to show how valued judges are to the state and the legal system.  "This is also about the symbolism to a Judiciary that…has felt demeaned, has felt disrespected and I think are looking from this commission…that they are getting some recognition of their status, the status of their role, the kind of thing that will continue to attract and keep good people," Ms. Wylde said. "It's not just the money, but the fact that they are a respected third branch of government."

Political Skirmish

Mr. Mulholland, who proposed immediate pay increases to $192,000 a year, was rebuked by several panel members when he criticized Mr. Tallon for going along with the Cuomo appointees' pay-raise proposal rather than forming a united legislative front with the Senate.  "I'm disappointed that the Assembly's legislative appointee does not sufficiently recognize the fundamental importance of this decision to the steady, stable functioning of New York's government," Mr. Mulholland said. "I'm disappointed that the Assembly's legislative appointee has not seen fit to close ranks with me, to stand arm-in-arm with me, the Senate majority's appointee, to show the Judiciary that the full Legislature has its back."  Mr. Thompson replied that he considered the seven members of the commission to be independent appointees and not representatives of the Legislature, the governor or the chief judge.  "I never looked at myself as the governor's appointee," he said.  Mr. Cotton told Mr. Mulholland, "It is highly unfortunate to inject the scoring of political points in this discussion."  For his part, Mr. Tallon said he was surprised at being accused of not supporting the Judiciary.  "But as I said earlier, this is a politically volatile issue," said Mr. Tallon, a former state assemblyman from the Binghamton area.  Mr. Silver said in a statement Friday that the political skirmishing prompted by Mr. Mulholland's comment was what the commission was designed to avoid.  "An independent commission was created to take the decision away from the Legislature and away from political finger pointing," Mr. Silver said. "I have not spoken to my appointee to the commission except during the initial process. Each commissioner made an independent determination reflecting their own personal judgment, not the judgment of the Senate, Assembly or governor."

State Senator John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was disappointed that a clear consensus was not reached by the commission.  "The existence of the commission was only necessitated by the Assembly's failure to act [to raise judicial pay] when the Senate did in 2007," Mr. Bonacic said in a statement. "That said, the commission has made its decision, and a 4-3 vote, is still a majority."  He did not say whether he would support the recommendation.  The commission will go out of existence after transmitting its final report to the Legislature and the governor on Monday. A new commission will be appointed to recommend salary adjustments for the four state fiscal years starting April 1, 2016.  Mr. Thompson said the third-year pay for Supreme Court justices would match the current salary levels for U.S. District Court judges, which Chief Judge John Roberts has been lobbying Congress to increase for years. Mr. Thompson said he would not object if the commission's final report contained a request that the Legislature and the governor should raise Supreme Court justices' pay to the level of U.S. District Court judges in the fourth year of the pay plan, if the federal judges get raises in the meantime.

New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said that the plan backed by the commission will take too long to restore an adequate salary for judges.  "Waiting until 2014 to provide judges with an appropriate salary—which will by then be reduced by inflation—fails to recognize their critical role in society," Mr. Cardozo said in a statement.  George Bundy Smith, a retired Court of Appeals judge now at Chadbourne & Parke, helped represent judges in a suit seeking to force the Legislature and governor to grant judges higher salaries. He said the lack of retroactivity in the recommendations means that judges will continue to be "short-changed." Mr. Smith said he considers that to be a "form of age discrimination" against judges who have been forced to step down since 1999 due to their age and who will not be compensated for wages they lost to the pay impasses in Albany.  Vincent E. Doyle III, president of the New York State Bar Association, expressed concern over what he called the "relatively modest salary adjustment" recommended by the commission and the fact it will be phased in over three years.  "Judges have waited long enough," Mr. Doyle, of Connors and Villardo in Buffalo, said in a statement. "We recognize the state's fiscal problems and that many New Yorkers have been forced to sacrifice. For judges, the sacrifice has been particularly long and onerous. Since 1999, in good economic times and bad, judges' salaries have not increased by even one cent."  The New York City Bar and the New York County Lawyers' Association also issued statements criticizing the size of the recommended raise.  Milton Williams Jr., chair of the Fund for Modern Courts, stated that the organization appreciated that the compensation commission "has taken the first step, through a modest salary adjustment phased in over the next three years, to redress the grossly inadequate salaries of the judiciary in New York state. We continue to believe that judicial compensation, which has been frozen for the past dozen years, must be adjusted to at least take into account the significant cost of living increases during this time. We urge the next special commission to fully address this continuing inequity."  Judge Lippman's own salary will increase from $156,000 a year to $182,500 in the first year under the salary recommendation and to $197,100 in the third year.  He said that Mr. Thompson may been correct in his calculation that recommendations of the order sought by Messrs. Fiske and Mulholland may have caused a backlash from the Legislature and the governor.  "Yes, it is possible to view it that if it were higher, there might have been a challenge," the chief judge said.  Mr. Cuomo, whose office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, is projecting budget gaps of more than $2 billion in each of the next two state fiscal years.  Brooklyn Family Court Judge Daniel Turbow, head of the New York City Family Court Judges Association, said he was "very disappointed" with the result of the commission's work. At the least, he said he expected an immediate increase for judges to the $174,000 level for federal District Court judges.  "Frankly, I'm shocked," said Judge Turbow, who attended Friday's commission meeting.  The recommendations cover 1,200 state-paid judges; town and village court justices are not affected.  Joel Stashenko can be contacted at John Caher contributed to this report.

Key Developments

  • Jan. 1, 1999: Judges receive their last raise: a 21 percent increase as part of a deal between the Legislature and Governor George E. Pataki that also includes salary boosts for legislators and state government agency heads. In return, the Legislature accedes to Mr. Pataki's demand that charter schools be established in the state.
  • Feb. 25, 2004: Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye decries a system that forces judges to "beg and plead" for pay raises from their counterparts in co-equal branches of government and promises to submit legislation for automatic cost-of-living increases for judges.
  • Dec. 3, 2004: The Judiciary, reflecting the growing concerns of judges, breaks with tradition and includes a proposed pay increase for judges in its 2005-06 budget. It repeats the move in subsequent years.
  • March 30, 2007: On the verge of pay increase agreement in the 2007-08 budget, Governor Eliot Spitzer says he will withhold judges' raises until lawmakers accede to his demands for ethics reforms. Legislators did not, and the raise proposal dies.
  • April 9, 2007: Judge Kaye suggests for the first time that she will sue the other branches of government if they do not give judges a raise.
  • April 10, 2008: Judge Kaye files suit against the governor and Legislature in Manhattan Supreme Court to remedy the "intolerable situation" facing the Judiciary. Her action joins two other suits by individual judges.
  • Feb. 23, 2010: The Court of Appeals rules in Maron v. Silver, 14 NY2d 230, that by not granting judges a raise, the Legislature has created a "crisis" violating the separation of powers doctrine. It does not impose a salary increase but orders the Legislature to consider the pay question separately from unrelated public policy issues.
  • Nov. 30, 2010: The Legislature approves a bill creating a commission to meet every four years to recommend raises. The first recommendations are to go into effect on April 1, 2012, unless specifically countermanded by the Legislature.
  • Dec. 10, 2010: Governor David A. Paterson signs legislation creating the pay commission and proclaims that "the judges of this state will get [the salaries] they deserve," which "is important to creating the highest standard of jurisprudence in this nation."
  • June 10, 2011: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo rounds out the composition of the seven-member commission with his appointment of three members, including Chairman William Thompson Jr., New York City's former comptroller.
  • July 20, 2011: The pay commission holds its only public hearing, in Albany. The panel has received submissions from 46 organizations and individuals. They are posted at
  • Friday (August 26, 2011): The commission votes 4-3 to gradually raise the $136,700 salary of Supreme Court justices to the $174,000 now earned by federal district judges. The justices would earn $160,000 as of April 1, 2012; $167,000 as of April 1, 2013; and $174,000 as of April 1, 2014. The pay of other state judges would be increased proportionately.


Anonymous said...

What a total joke!
Is this how our governor tightens the financial reigns?
Layoffs for some court workers and a raise for others?

Anonymous said...

Besides ANY NY State commission pooled from political interests being a joke on the NY State public, the fact remains that OCA non-judicial employees are forced to be evaluated yearly, no matter how many decades they have worked in OCA concentration camps.
The judiciary has no such evaluations or accountability for decades of their judiciary's employment and the quality of JUDGES proves that point.
Also all Government raises must be contingent on performance in the job and with the approval of the public, not some commission that rubber stamps what the CEO in that agency wants, but claims vehemently it is..... independent!
Until the Justice systems of America and esp. NY State....SHORTEN TERMS, VETT CANDIDATES WITHOUT POLITICS, AND EVALUATE JUDGES SHOWING THE PUBLIC RESULTS...we will have a state and country that will continue to deteriorate, as it is spiralling downwards worse then the crazy east coast disasters of this week.
Cuomo cannot help but show himself as the typical self-absorbed politicial madman that he really is...and no to my dentist, he is not our salvation.

Knowsforfact said...

Think this will slow/curtail the under-table tax-free shenanigans that undoubtedly INCREASED, and reflected in BOGUS DECISIONS that only handcuff litigants to the court, and their atty's, seeking deserved justice that only fuels the cycle evermore.
A BOGUS DECISION akin to a Judiciary's vote of current PAYROLL DISAPPROVAL.
Atty's that have sold their soul and traded in their SWORN PROFESSION for a MASS-PRODUCED MONOPOLY INDUSTRY know all too well. (see you at the club)

the baker said...

Let the corrupt members of New York's Judiciary eat cake.

Anonymous said...

all very true and very good.

and this Blog said the dc feds were going to "rock" new york, that was 3 years ago and what has happened since?

it is almost september, 2011.

Disgusted said...

The proper headline should have been "Cuomo rewards crooked judges with 27% raise."

Did Cuomo and Silver fool you? It was their hacks who did what they were told. When will Fred Dicker at NY Post spin this as not Cuomo's fault. Cuomo gave a 27% raise to judges. Lippman thanks the hacks and the hack selectors.

Anonymous said...

Where is the money coming from? Santa Claus?

Blog Archive

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:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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