OTEY: Judges Kaye and Lippman led successful campaign

September 4, 2012 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Judge Jonathan Lippman
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Leading jurists, including former Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye, her successor the Hon. Jonathan Lippman and a number of proactive members of the bench such as Kings County Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack, led the successful fight to have the state legislature de-link their salary raises from those of sitting justices.

They and others, notably Criminal Term Administrative Judge Barry Kamins and Civil Term Administrative Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix, battled in the press and the courts for years during a 12-year salary freeze that impacted directly on those like Justice Belen, who spent just about that entire bleak period on the bench without even a cost-of-living adjustment!

So it should come as no surprise that Judge Kaye told the Eagle writer Charisma L. Miller last week that she was “first and foremost heartbroken that Judge Belen is leaving the bench.”

Judge Lippman told Ms. Miller of his “disappointment” following Justice Belen’s decision and described him as a “fabulous judge, one of the best.”

Yet at the same time, while acknowledging that “the (2011) pay raise was welcome, Justice Belen noted that “ it really was long overdue…(and) does not really change substantially a judge’s life, particularly in New York City.”

As a trial lawyer who was directly familiar with his work at the Corporation Counsel’s Office and appeared before him in Kings County, I would certainly agree with both Judge Kaye and Judge Lippman. And I would add that Justice Belen, soon to become affiliated with the JAMS – a dispute resolution firm–brought to the bench a singular sense of decency and fairness.

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