The Judicial Gravy Train Express
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California August 12, 2002
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Gravy Train ExpressThis is one of those stories that motivates us to ask, "How many times do you have to be hit with the truth before you wake up, shake your head and ask yourself, 'What in the world is going on with the judiciary?' Maybe it is time to do something about these outrageous accounts."-Ron Branson-Judge bails out on bench for extra pension
by Howie Carr
Sunday, August 11, 2002What's the big deal about Judge June C. Miles retiring with a $7,048-a-month ``mental disability'' pension. The fact is, she actually retired back in 1990, when former Gov. Mike Dukakis appointed her.
This latest scheme is nothing more than the 63-year-old jurist retiring from her retirement.
Let's go straight to the numbers. Base pay for a judge in Massachusetts is $112,277. Every judge is entitled to six weeks' vacation a year, plus four weeks of sick leave. Judges also get 13 ``vacation'' days, five ``personal'' days and 15 days' ``educational'' leave.
That adds up to more than 16 weeks off, which does not seem like heavy lifting, unless perhaps your name is Chuck Hunt. But the workload was too much for Miles. So it was arranged for her to abscond with a very special lifetime pension, which is $35,000 above what she could have gotten under normal circumstances.
Budget deficit? What budget deficit?
For the rest of her life, the judge will collect $7,048 a month. By comparison, the average Social Security check is $849 a month. An SSDI stipend typically comes to $778. A disabled teacher collects $1,289 a month.
``Try to go to the VA for post-traumatic stress syndrome and see how far you get,'' one Vietnam vet snarled Friday. ``I am outraged by this.''
Come on, man, Miles did give it the old college try. Since 1999, she has only missed 131 weeks of work. Those numbers were compiled by Governor's Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning, who fought the massive handout along with fellow Councilor Marilyn P. Devaney.
According to Manning's numbers, Judge Miles was MIA for six weeks in 1999, 48 weeks in 2000 and all 52 weeks in 2001. She also banged in sick for the first 25 weeks of 2002 year before her ``retirement'' was approved by the Governor's Council, 6-2, with Manning and Devaney dissenting.
Her doctor said that compelling the judge to work would be ``knowingly subjecting her to further traumatic events (a model for torture).''
It's odd how it would have been ``torture'' for the judge to actually put in a day's work. But all those years of cashing a $2,200-a-week paycheck for a no-show job - no problem.
As a lawyer put it Friday: ``In order to be tortured on the bench, you have to sit on the bench, and she never did. She was a hack's hack.''
The judge claimed working caused her to suffer trauma related to certain unspecified abuses in her own past. Before being appointed to the bench, she claimed, she had suffered ``amnesia'' about the incidents.
Miles did not return a call Friday seeking comment.
This was a Jane Swift deal all the way. In this lame-duck period, her judicial screening panel, the JNC, has taken to meeting not once, but twice a week.
To create still more courthouse vacancies, 60-something judges and clerks are quietly being approached about taking early retirement. The carrot? Well, maybe they have a daughter, or a nephew, who's as allergic to work as Miles. So if the old-timer puts in his papers, there might just be an opening for an assistant clerk two towns over. You scratch my back . . .
For example, right now the clerk's job is open in Miles' old bailiwick. The former clerk of the Boston Juvenile Court was Jackie Bulger, of the infamous organized-crime family. Jackie retired while in a photo finish with the grand jury, which by the way he lost. Jackie's monthly kiss in the mail soon may be sent care of John Ashcroft.
Anyway, the stampede for Bulger's old job resembled the California Gold Rush of 1849. One of the applicants is MDC Commissioner David Balfour. He now makes more than $100,000 a year, but is willing to take a paycut to $88,000 because he'd like to permanently wedge his snout into the trough.
I called Balfour and told him I'd heard there was a second connected candidate in the field - the sister of House Speaker Tommy Finneran.
``I did not know that,'' he said, and he sounded sad. Hey, Red Dog, maybe it's just a rumor. But Tommy Taxes didn't call back to deny it.
Don't worry, though, Dave. If this hack sinecure doesn't pan out, something else just as good will open up. Someone will be struck down with post-traumatic stress syndrome. There's a lot of it going around these days. ....
Howie Carr may be contacted through www.howiecarr.orghttp://www2.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/carr08112002.htmI wonder how long it will be before this nation realizes we are in a national judicial emergency and that passing J.A.I.L. is not an option? When a building is on fire and lives are at stake, do we say, "We'll get around to it eventually?"
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