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December 23, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. AP photo
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Gov. Cuomo’s Commissioner Voted Against Pay Hike

It’s worth noting that the commission’s two representatives chosen by the court system and the two chosen by the Legislature formed the majority. Unsurprisingly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s three appointees voted against the plan, voicing “concern over possible fiscal implications.”

These recommendations for the upcoming year “would become law unless the Legislature passed a bill on modification or abrogation, which Cuomo would have to sign by March 31, 2016,” according to the New York Law Journal story.

“Likewise, for years 2017 through 2019, if lawmakers want to alter the pay recommendation, any bill would have to be passed and signed before March 31, which is the last day of the fiscal year,” the report  added.

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A different commission would decide salaries after 2019. The seven commission members also voted unanimously to “correct pay disparities for certain courts, such as Surrogate’s Court, County Court and Family Court,” Keshner said.

A statement by Keshner explained that “when the state in 1977 took control of pay for county- and city-level courts, different municipalities paid their judges differently and the discrepancies were not addressed in the following years.

“The commission adopted a proposal originally put forward by the Office Court Administration, which said County, Family and Surrogate’s Court judges should be paid no less than 95 percent of a Supreme Court justice salary. Any position already above the 95 percent mark would remain at that percentage.

“District Court judges, as well as New York City Civil Court and Criminal Court judges, would make 93 percent of the Supreme Court salary.”

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Happier Holidays Ahead: Will State Judges Finally Get Paid on a Par with Federal Colleagues?

It looks as though the salaries of many New York justices will finally be removed from the depths of political pettiness and elevated to a status worthy of the women and men who wear these robes. Call it “fair and balanced.”

Possibly, those who make most of the critical decisions throughout the Empire State will no longer see their income uncomfortably hitched to the whim and whimsy of our Senate and Assembly — both bodies now rocked by the convictions of their respective leaders.

Why? The State Judicial Commission voted 4-3 last Monday to put New York State Supreme Court justice salaries on par with those of federal district court judges by 2018.

According to a report by Andrew Keshner in the New York Law Journal, “The majority embraced a proposal that would have justices making 95 percent of the salary of their federal counterparts in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins April 1, 2016.

“Federal district judges are due to make $203,100 and 95 percent of that sum is $192,945. By statute, the salary is rounded up, meaning the Supreme Court 2016 salary could become $193,000,” according to Keshner.

State Supreme Court justices currently make $174,000 a year.

If the majority recommendation is enacted “the Supreme Court salary in 2017 would remain at 95 percent of the federal salary for 2017, also including whatever cost of living adjustment was applied to the federal salary. Compensation would climb to 100 percent in 2018. The state salary would remain pegged to the federal salary in 2019.”


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