Judge orders pay hike for NY jurists

June 11, 2008 1:47:10 PM PDT
A judge has ordered New York's governor, Senate and Assembly to raise the pay of the state's judges within the next 90 days. State Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner in Manhattan said Wednesday that the defendants unconstitutionally abused their power by depriving judges of a pay hike for almost 10 years. He said state legislators illegally linked a judicial salary increase to one for themselves.

Lehner, who acknowledged he would be affected by his own decision, ordered the state to raise judicial pay to reflect cost of living increases since 1998.

He was ruling on a lawsuit brought by four judges. Chief Judge Judith Kaye is leading a different lawsuit against the Legislature to secure raises - but has warned judges not to protest through action from the bench.

New York's highest-paid state judge makes $156,000 a year.

Lehner said previously that judges' pay has been so ravaged by inflation in the last nine years that a first-year associate at a large New York City law firm would have to take a pay cut to become the state's chief judge.