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Legal Ethics: Judicial Pay Raises

Recently, a New York State justice ordered a pay increase for the state’s judges. Everyone deserves a raise if they have quality work to back it up, however, when the person issuing the raise is also a recipient, is this considered ethical?

The judges sued in state court, as the Federal Government cannot order a state to make a pay increase. When the legislature failed to do anything, it was brought before a judge who ruled in favor of the raise. How is that ethical? Well, there is a rule of necessity that says if there is no other place to bring the case, a judge must rule even if the outcome will impact him. In this particular case, I don’t believe it was unethical, as the judge who made the order was close to retirement himself and therefore the raise doesn’t have a huge impact on him.

During the radio show, we said that these judges have not received a pay raise since 1999, nearly ten years. This is a very long time for anyone, no matter your position. Considering this, I agree that they should indeed get the pay raise, however, my issue is with their request for retroactive pay

To make up for the past ten years, these judges are asking for over $700 million in retroactive wages, which for taxpayers is a hard pill to swallow. Sure judges work hard and as public servants are certainly entitled to a raise, given the cost of living and the fact that they are ranked 49th out of the 50 states as the lowest paid judges, but asking to be compensated for all those years is a little ridiculous.


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