New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye filed suit against the New York Governor and Legislators seeking pay raises for New York State Judges. It is absolutely preposterous that it has come to this considering that Judges have not received any pay raise, not even to adjust for cost of living, in more than nine years. New York Judges’ salaries are ranked 49th in the Country among State Judges. In addition, the New York State Judges make about $30,000 less that Federal Judges who are also underpaid.
The potential for harm to the judiciary was noted recently by United States Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas in a hearing last month before Congress. Justice Thomas pointed out that Federal judges make about what first year associates make at the largest law firms. Judge Kay in her lawsuit points out that many professors working for the State and City system make more than a New York Supreme Court Justice as do the District Attorneys in New York City.
As a New York trial attorney I am in Court virtually every day. I see the most serious of cases being litigated before Judges throughout the area. The litigants in those cases deserve that there cases be heard by the best and the brightest judges who can give their fullest attention to each case.
If New York doesn’t fix the imbalance caused by going 10 years without judicial raises, the good judges on the New York bench will leave and be replaced by the few lawyers who cannot get a better paying job or the few lawyers who are independently wealthy and just don’t care. Neither type of Judge is the kind that New Yorker’s deserve.