NY Bar Association Says Salary Hikes For State Judges Are Too Small

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Bar Association President Vincent Doyle says he’s concerned that the new Judicial Compensation Commission has approved only modest salary hikes for state judges whose pay has stagnated since 1999.

“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 commission voted to increase the annual salaries of state Supreme Court judges from $136,700 to $160,000 next year. The panel has approved further raises to $167,000 in 2013 and to $174,000 in 2014.

Doyle says that means judicial salaries will have risen 27 percent over a 15-year period, far less than the projected inflation rate. He says salary stagnation makes it harder to attract and retain talented judges.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview that the hike for state Supreme Court judges is 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.”

The 77,000-member association represents lawyers.

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.

Do you agree with this wage increase compromise? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Chris M

    I think most commenters are missing the point. You want to encourage judicial service among the best and brightest lawyers. The salary paid to judges should be sufficient for the best and brightest lawyers to run for judicial position. If the salaries are too low, the best and brightest lawyers may be discouraged from running for office.

  • Robert H.

    The judges are already getting paid 3-4 times of what is most families’ income and now are going to get a raise amount equivalent to what is someone else’s yearly salary … and they still want more. …

  • Really?

    Yeah, stop complaining! My husband hasn’t gotten ANY raise in 3 years and all bonuses have been cut too, which essentially means a pay cut for the past 3 years and higher cost of living.

  • Alex

    Judges are not obligated to accept their appointments. If they are feeling they are underpaid, they can resign effective immediately. Believe me, there are a lot of lawyers struggling to get their bench. So, dissatisfied-out.

  • Fairness for the aged

    So has the expense”s of those on fixed income. No raise in 3 years.

  • Cos

    I find it difficult to believe that anyone who makes $160,000 a year or more is upset about the cost of living… It would appear that this story is playing the ‘pity’ card for them. I agree that everyone should get what they deserve. However, at $160, 000 or better, I can’t say that I feel sorry for them. I feel more pity for the person making $32,0000 a year with NO overtime, NO raise OR bonus in their future. Those are usually the people who do the dirtiest work and are disrespected the most. Those are the people that deserve a 40% increase over the next 3 years. That’s just my opinion, though…

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