*** Starving Judges
- STARVING JUDGESSunday, August 6, 2000
In the Name of Justice, Judges Should Get Fair Pay
Courts: Rookie lawyers often make more money than the people who decide on life, death and livelihoods.
California's judges recently received a modest pay raise, bringing the compensation of those serving on Superior Courts to about $133,000 per year. ....
Veteran trial judges handle the most serious and complex cases, which we all need to have reliably resolved, including billion-dollar contract disputes; million-dollar personal injury or medical malpractice claims; important civil rights litigation; dissolution of marriages, including child custody and support issues; and decisions in death penalty and other criminal cases, as well as conservatorships and cases involving abandoned, abused and neglected children.
Depriving judges of compensation commensurate with the importance of their function in society is unwise. It has resulted in a persistent hemorrhage of many of our best judges out of the public justice system. Moreover, it feeds the expansion of a separate justice system catering to the wealthy, in which controversies are resolved more promptly by judges who have fled the public justice system. To the extent that the powerful no longer have a stake in the public justice system, even fewer resources will be provided to it. Inevitably, the next step will be fewer rights and procedural safeguards for those who must use the public justice system.
There is no shortage of applicants to the bench, but retention of many of the most talented judges has been undermined by the significant erosion in their compensation. It is imperative that an increase on the order of 40%--to $186,200 a year, at least--be put into effect without delay, with a cost-of-living index to automatically adjust for inflation in the future.
Michael P. Judge Is the Los Angeles Public Defender *
Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times* The founder of JAIL, Ronald Branson, has had opportunity of personal dealing with Public Defender Michael Judge. One of his deputies assigned to defense on Mr. Branson's case became so enraged at him and uncontrollable that he called Mr. Branson "A bald-faced liar. He's lying through his teeth" in open court on the record before the judge.When Branson reported such unethical and unbecoming conduct to his boss, Michael Judge, the offending deputy public defender denied the allegations. Branson then challenged Michael Judge to draw out the court transcript for himself and view the transcript. Rather than do so, Branson received a letter from Michael Judge stating their "investigation" showed no wrong-doing on the part of the public defender. Further Michael Judge refused to produce the transcript which would have been conclusive of the public defender's conduct! He had every chance to prove "Mr. Branson [was indeed] a bald-faced liar." Branson had them cold, and Michael Judges's credibility went down the drain. (Anyone need a public defender in L.A.?)Now Michael Judge, Public Defender, is crying out on behalf of the judges. He admits "There is no shortage of applicants to the bench." Even though so many applicants are desirous to obtain judgeship, it is so expensive to pursue that position that only the rich and well connected even have a fighting chance at all. Common since would tell anyone, including an attorney like Michael Judge, something is wrong with his picture. If everyone wants your job, you certainly cannot be heard to complain about the pay. There are hosts of people who would like to fill your job for less. And Branson attests that they would probably be better judges. Would we not do better to open the bench to the lowest bidder rather than raise the bid and preclude even more the chance of the honest to obtain the bench. Branson says, "Let the malcontent judges sling hamburgers?" When JAIL becomes the law of this land, we shall see a host of judges applying for early retirement, vacating those highly sought after seats to those who will seek them based on principle, not $$$ an influence. JAIL will become a nationwide recall of near all corrupt judges in America!-Ron Branson
J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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