Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: June 12, 2007

Seal of the Unified Court System

Chief Judge Kaye Addresses Business Leaders

NEW YORK – More than 80 prominent business leaders gathered at the New York City Bar today to hear Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye deliver an address about the need for pay raises for judges. Chief Judge Kaye discussed the potential negative impact of the judicial pay crisis on the economic health of New York. The Chief Judge also endorsed the creation of a commission-based system to establish future judicial pay raises. Attendees of the event included representatives of national and international corporations as well as members of the Partnership for New York City and the Business Council of New York State. New York's judicial salary freeze, now entering its ninth year, is the longest of any state in the country.

“New York is the epicenter of the business world, and our court system has consistently been a model of innovation in business litigation. We now stand to lose that leadership position as a result of the nearly nine year long judicial pay freeze and its potential to undermine the quality and independence of New York’s judiciary,” said Chief Judge Kaye. “I extend heartfelt thanks to the many business leaders here this morning, all of whom represent organizations that rely on our courts to hand down informed, incisive judgments in complex commercial cases.”

“The New York State court system has historically been recognized as one of the finest in the nation, largely because its bench has some of the country's brightest legal minds at work," Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said. "Moving forward, we are concerned that our most outstanding lawyers and judges will likely be both unwilling and unable to serve in a position that requires them to make great personal financial sacrifices.”

Tim Zagat, founder and CEO of Zagat Survey, said, “Many companies are likely to reassess the benefits of doing business in a state with a compromised court system – one that may be without seasoned scholars on the bench who can confidently and astutely interpret commercial law. To maintain its status as the commercial capital of the world, New York’s courts must be able to attract the best possible legal minds. The current state court salary levels make that extremely difficult.”

“A pillar of New York's leadership as a place to transact business is a strong and fair judiciary," said Michael D. Fricklas, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Viacom.  "The economic pressure on judges, who now earn less than a first year associate in a New York law firm, will continue to force quality people into other professions. The pay disparity, which is now at crisis proportions, should concern not only every New Yorker, but everyone who relies on New York in any conceivable way."

A recent study conducted by the National Center for State Courts found that New York State judicial pay ranks 48th in the nation when adjusted for the state’s high cost of living. New York judges have received only two pay increases in the last 19 years.


Web page updated: June 12, 2007