Judge’s pay raise squabble to be heard
This week will always be remembered as the time when Brooklyn’s judiciary went to court crying poverty.
Oral arguments in three separate lawsuits regarding judicial pay raises were scheduled to be heard by the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday as this paper went to press.
In each case, state trial judges — including several Brooklyn jurists — demand that Albany legislators give them a long overdue bump in pay.
Currently, state Supreme Court judges make $136,700 a year. But since their raises are tied in with Albany legislators, they haven’t seen a pay raise in over a decade. Currently first year associates at some law firms make more money than they do, they claim.
Albany’s lack of consideration in this manner has forced the filing of three lawsuits — one by former Chief Judge Judith S Kaye. Other suits include Larabee v. Governor and Maron v. Silver, where outspoken Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack is a co-plaintiff.
Schack has recused himself from cases involving state legislators or the lawfirms they are affiliated with.
A year ago, Schack recused himself from a personal injury case against Brookdale Hospital when he learned that the plaintiff’s law firm was connected to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“It is high time for Speaker Silver to realize that the approximately 1300 New York State judges are working people who deserve their first pay raise in more than a decade,” he wrote in his recusal decision. “If I were to deny any future motions or orders to show cause on behalf of the plaintiff it could be construed as retaliation against the legislature by an aggrieved judge. Conversely, if I were to grant any future motions or orders to show cause on behalf of defendant, it could be perceived as an attempt to curry favor with Speaker Silver and his 211 colleagues in the New York State Assembly and Senate.”
The number of recusals by Schack and other jurists became so many that former Chief Judge Kaye barred them to do so on these grounds. Despite these warnings, Schack continued to do so.
Many of the lawsuits have been denied, prompting these appeals.