New York State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III expressed concern that the Judicial Compensation Commission approved a relatively modest salary adjustment for New York's judges whose wages have been frozen since January 1999.
Judges are leaving the bench voluntarily in record numbers, according to a recent New York Times article. In 1999, 48 of the state's 1,300 judges resigned. In 2011, 110 quit the bench. "Judicial pay scales should not be so inadequate that they encourage top judges to resign - or deter highly qualified attorneys from seeking judgeships," President Doyle noted.
President Doyle said he also was disappointed that the commission called for phasing in the adjustment over three years.
"Judges have waited long enough," he said. "We recognize the state's fiscal problems and that many New Yorkers have been forced to sacrifice."
In a report issued in July 2011, the State Bar Association called for raising salaries of state Supreme Court justices from $136,700 to $192,000 to reflect the increase in the cost-of-living since 1999.
In 1977, the state government became responsible for funding the newly created Unified Court System. Since then, judicial pay raises have been infrequent. "A pattern of long periods of salary stagnation [were] interrupted by occasional 'catch-up' increases," the bar association report says.