Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do Judges Have The Right To A Raise??

Yes, says New York's highest court. The denial of a raise to state judges for more than a decade violates the state Constitution, the state Court of Appeals ruled in a 5-1 opinion.

However, the majority declined to order any specific remedy, saying only that it expects "appropriate and expeditious legislative consideration" of its decision. The ruling adopts the argument of several judge-plaintiffs and the court system as a whole that the independence of the judiciary has been threatened by the improper linkage of judges' pay to other, unrelated issues.

Judge Smith dissented. He stated that while it is "depressing" that pay considerations have driven many fine judges from the bench, "it is also true that there are still plenty of able judges, and plenty of able people who would willingly become judges, even at today's pay levels."

I am deeply troubled by this decision. Though it clearly only involved judges, can the same rationale be applied to police officers or others who have not received a sufficient raise to remain "independent." Think about it, Judges are employees just like everyone else. Should they be subject to different rules than everyone else??

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Judges | Permalink


The police are not an independent branch of the government, only the employees of one, and do not exercise independent judgment of the same kind and scope that judges do. The police are analogous to court clerks or reporters, not judges; they are neither elected nor appointed. The analogy to the judge would be the elected chief executive or the several elected or appointed executive officials. None of which means I necessarily agree (or disagree) with the majority.

Posted by: David in Texas | Feb 24, 2010 1:07:09 PM

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