New York State’s 1,300 judges have not had a pay raise in a decade. Now the state’s Appellate Division, 1st Department has ruled on the issue, giving lawmakers 90 days to adjust judicial compensation to reflect a 30% increase in the cost of living since 1998.
The state legislature’s failure to give the state’s judges a raise violated the separation of powers doctrine, the appeals court ruled unanimously yesterday. By linking judicial pay to legislators’ pay and other political considerations, lawmakers tainted the judicial branch with politics, the court found.
The panel’s decision affirms a ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner that the linkage of judicial raises to other issues is unconstitutional.
As lawmakers are reticent to give anyone a pay increase in the current economic environment, the issue is likely headed back to court.
The suit was brought by four judges: Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee, Cattaraugus County Family Court Judge Michael Nenno, Manhattan Civil Court Judge Geoffrey Wright and Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Patricia Nunez.