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Friday, September 14, 2007

Judges to appear on the other side of the bench

Filing a lawsuit is an interesting way to try to get a raise. It’s even more interesting when it’s judges who are doing it.

According to report by the Associated Press, New York's judges are suing the state for higher salaries and back pay.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this week, comes about two months after Gov. Eliot Spitzer and state lawmakers ended the legislative session at an impasse over legislative and judicial salaries.

The judges’ complaint argues that connecting the two violated the state constitution's separation of powers doctrine. The judges also contend that the governor and the Legislature have “unlawfully impounded” $69.5 million they allocated in the budget for judicial salary increases. The lawsuit asks the court to order release of the money allocated for judicial pay raises as well as cost-of-living adjustments of 9 percent per year dating back to 2000.

Four judges -- three in New York City and one in Cattaraugus County -- are named as plaintiffs in the suit. The New York Law Journal reported on its website Wednesday that three other judges have filed a similar suit in Albany County.

New York's highest paid state judge makes $156,000 a year. By comparison, the chief justice of Minnesota’s Supreme Court is very close to that at $155,902. State District Court judges across Minnesota currently earn $125,363.

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