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Class of California Judges Certified in Salary Suit
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Over 3,000 judges will form a class in a suit involving salary and retirement increases.

Summary: Roughly 3,000 active and retired judges will form a class in a lawsuit that alleges the judges did not receive salary and retirement increases as required by California law.

The National Law Journal reports that on Thursday, a Los Angeles judge granted class certification to a group of over 3,000 active and retired California state judges. The judges have argued that they were illegally deprived of salary increases after the 2008 recession hit the country.


Interestingly, Judge Elihu Berle is the judge that presided over the case, and is also a potential class member. According to Raoul Kennedy, of counsel to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Judge Berle presides over the case due to the doctrine of necessity. Kennedy represents the named plaintiff, Justice Robert Mallano, a former Second District Court of Appeals judge.

After the hearing, which was held in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Kennedy said, “We’re pleased with the result.”

Last year, a class action suit was filed against Sephora, accusing it of discrimination.

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Mallano filed the suit last year on behalf of 1,600 active trial and appellate judges, as well as 1,800 retired judges and beneficiaries. According to Mallano, state Controller John Chiang, along with the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), did not increase salaries from fiscal year 2008-2009 to fiscal year 2012-2013. CalPERS administers two judicial retirement systems. Garin Casaleggio, a spokesman for Chiang, responded, “The controller’s role in the matter is purely ministerial because the controller cuts the state’s checks.”

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The defendants were in opposition to the class certification. They argued that Mallano should not serve as a class representative and that the defendants “play no substantive role in the determination of judicial salaries.”

California Deputy General Jonathan Rich argued that the decision to increase the judges’ salaries includes multiple entities, including the California Department of Finance and the Judicial Council. He said, “Under these circumstances, plaintiff is not asserting claims reasonably expected to be raised by the members of the class, and therefore is not an adequate class representative.”

In May, Vibram was ordered to pay over $3 million in a class action lawsuit over FiveFinger Shoes.

Judge Berle noted that the defendant made similar arguments on a dismissal motion that was denied the year before. Berle added that there were “major flaws” in those arguments.” He commented, “There’s no indication on the record or any evidence the plaintiff is antagonistic to the class. Plaintiff and his counsel adequately represent the class.”

Jarrett Hann, an analyst at the National Center for State courts, said that most state court judges nationwide did not receive salary increases after the recession hit. Hann said, “Over the recessionary years, there was a big freeze on any pay increase. And now we’re seeing, in the last two or three years, things are getting back to where they were before the recession.”

In fact, as of January 1, 2014, California appellate judges earned the highest salaries in the country. Other judges in California also did well: the state trial judges earned $181,292, which is the fifth-highest state judge salary in the country.

ExamSoft was sued by bar exam takers in a class action suit for malfunctioning during state bar exams.

According to the complaint, California law requires that judicial salary increases should have been mandatory to reflect the raises given to state employees after fiscal year 2008-2009. Mallano retired on February 28, said that in November, he received a 1.4% salary increase that was retroactive to 2013, but not for previous years.

Source: National Law Journal

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