"Some complain their bread is too hard;
Some complain their pearls are too small".
This blog post is about complaints of New York judiciary (and of attorneys whose livelihood is depending on good graces of that judiciary) to the New York State Commission for Judicial Compensation about the size of the pearls judges can and cannot afford.
DEBRA RASKIN, president of the New York City Bar Association, testimony of all witnesses are quoted from this official transcript of the November 30, 2015 hearing before the NYS Commission for Judicial, Executive and Legislative Compensation:
"I would also point out that many New Yorkers enter the state court system without counsel, which means that our judges not only manage heavy case loads but also must have the skill, patience and efficiency to shepherd through litigants who are proceeding without the benefits of lawyers. According to the New York State Unified Court System in 2013, there were 3.8 million cases filed in the trial courts that year alone and approximately two million litigants who proceeded in civil cases without representation of counsel. For many of those individuals - family, housing and debt matters - the outcome of the cases will be life-changing. ", transcript, p. 27.
"Thus, our state court judges bear an enormous responsibility to manage and resolve not only the large complex cases, but in the face of significant obstacles the smaller cases, cases for unrepresented individuals that are no less critical to the well-being of our state. The quality of our judiciary and social and financial impact of the decisions they make every day depend on this", p. 27.
Remember, this is the president of an organization that heavily lobbies to have attorney licensing remain the way it is (the NY City bar association did that before the recent Commission for Statewide Attorney discipline), and thus to prevent those millions of New Yorkers from getting affordable legal services, and this person who is part of the REASON why New Yorkers cannot have affordable legal representation, advocates to raise the pay of judges who help her maintain her lucrative status quo, BECAUSE judges "have" to deal with all those unrepresented litigants.
If you think there can be a bottom of moral degradation of the legal profession, this is it - to advocate the hand that feeds you at the expense of your victims because that hand has to deal with those victims of your own behavior.
"the City Bar actively supported increasing juddicial pay when the Commission first convened in 2011" - so that the judiciary would not forget the favor and give quid pro quo favor accordingly.
Here is the testimony on the same day of BARRY BOHRER, Chairman, Fund for Modern Courts, transcript, pp. 32-33:
- "Given the continuing challenges of the economy, many more litigants in these difficult times are turning to the courts to resolve both family and financial problems. Most often, these litigants are unrepresented, requiring the judiciary to take an ever more active role in the resolution of those problems. Our recommendations take this into account."
- economy is getting worse;
- more people are getting poor as a result;
- consumer debt cases and bank foreclosures on people's homes rise;
- bad economy causes many families to split up;
- child support applications rise
- people affected by bad economy and poverty go to court to resolve their problems either voluntarily (child support petitioners) or involuntarily (child support respondents, consumer debt and residential foreclosure defendants);
- courts have to "deal" with these poor unrepresented people;
- for that hard work of dealing with the poor, despite the worsening economy, judges need to be paid extra
Ok, we got it, she and her staff represent the poor across a large area of the State of New York.Holder says that she is in a unique position to address the issue of judicial pay raises from her organization's prospective and experience.Remember that Holder is a licensed attorney whose livelihood is in the hands of the judiciary through licensing.And, her career growth is in the hands of the same judiciary, because if she gets sanctioned by a judge for whatever reason, her license can get pulled, and she will lose her job.So.This is Holder's "unique prospective":"we strongly endorse substantial pay increases for the judiciary".And she goes on, and on, and on, about "judicial independence", necessity to attract "judicial talent" (that somehow cannot be attracted with a salary of $174,000 per year, with benefits, perks and support personnel), yada, yada, yada.Here it is.The advocate of the poor.Stating that the poor could just as well become a little poorer, so that the judges in front of whom she appears representing those poor people are paid a lot extra.And here is a chime-in from a judge in front of whom the poor usually appear - a City Court judge, in eviction, traffic ticket, crimes up to a misdemeanor level, felony arraignments, arraignments on family court warrants.Here is who the speaker is:He says that his court deals with a lot of unrepresented (poor, poorly educated) parties:He says that the job of a judge is worth doing no matter what:
Moreover, he complains that he gets less than 1/2 of the "middle level" salary of a full time judge of $145,000 per year.In other words, private attorney and part time judge Matthew Turner, of Troy, NY, complains that, in addition to his private practice, he is paid as a 1/2 time judge less than $72,500 a year, with benefits.
And we, as that plebs, who is coincidentally the employer of the State judges, should say "no" to the bigger pearls and scented hankies for the judiciary that they need to work with the poor and with all of unrepresented parties, the ordinary people who foot their bills.
They need to earn their pay - and they don't do it even now.
No pay raises for New York judges!