Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: November 19, 1998

Seal of the Unified Court System
Judiciary Budget Request for 1999-2000 Seeks Salary Increase for Judges
NEW YORK--Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye announced that the
Court of Appeals has approved and she has certified the Judiciary's 1999-2000 budget request, which includes a salary increase for all State-paid Judges. The budget will be transmitted by Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman to the Governor and the Legislative Leaders on Monday, November 23.

The proposed salary adjustment would raise the salary of a State Supreme Court Justice to $136,700. The salaries of the other State Judges would be increased proportionally.

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye stated, "Judges should be fairly and adequately compensated for the important work they perform. Over many years, the judges of this State have experienced a significant decline in the real value of their salaries. Judicial salaries-which have not kept pace with the cost of living-should not be permitted to serve as a deterrent to New York's long tradition of judicial excellence. The last salary increase for New York State judges was enacted in 1993. It is again time for the Legislature to act." Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman added, "The proposed salary adjustment is long overdue. The simple fact is that the value of judicial salaries has steadily declined-whether measured against the rate of inflation over the years, the income levels of attorneys in the State, or the salary growth of other State employees."
The proposed salary increases are supported by the findings of a blue ribbon Commission to Review the Compensation of New York State Judges, chaired by John R. Dunne, former New York State Senator and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Milton Mollen, former Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department. The Commission undertook a comprehensive study of judicial salaries, considering historic cost of living data, salaries paid to Federal judges, lawyers and other law-related professionals, and the salaries of other State employees.

The Commission found that the salaries of New York State Judges have lagged significantly in comparison to inflation indices. The Commission also found that salaries of State judges have fallen significantly behind those of Federal District Court judges, after many years in which State judicial salaries were above or equal to Federal judicial salaries.

The Commission's study revealed that State judicial salaries have fallen behind those of a significant portion of the practicing bar, and, finally, that State employees in all branches of government had experienced salary growth at a rate far surpassing the growth of judicial salaries. All of these factors led the Commission to conclude that judicial salaries should be increased to levels that are fair and appropriate, with the benchmark salary of a Supreme Court Justice recommended at $135,000. The benchmark level of $136,700 included in the Judiciary budget extends the Commission's findings, which were completed early in 1998, to the end of the year with regard to the cost of living and other relevant factors. The effect of the salary increase for full-time judges, who are not permitted to practice law, would be an adjustment of approximately 2.7 percent per year from enactment of the last judicial raise in 1993.
In addition to providing for the salary adjustments, the budget request provides funding for such initiatives as reform of matrimonial litigation; a grant program to modernize and upgrade the 2,300 Town and Village Courts in the State; enhanced use of technology in the courts, including additional video court appearance programs; and expansion of specialized court parts, such as domestic violence courts, drug treatment courts, and commercial parts, throughout the State.

The Judiciary's budget request was approved by the Court of Appeals and certified by Chief Judge Kaye following a presentation by Chief Administrative Judge Lippman to the Court of an itemized estimate of the Judiciary's budgetary needs for the next fiscal year. The budget will be available on Monday, after transmittal to the Governor and the Legislative Leaders.

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