Judges Sue California Over Pensions

     SAN DIEGO (CN) - Dozens of judges sued California in Superior Court, demanding unpaid and delinquent retirement benefits.
     More than 80 retired and active judges sued The Judges Retirement System, administered by the Board of Administration of the Public Employees Retirement System of California.
     They seek a writ of mandate or declaratory relief.
     California Controller John Chiang is also named as a real party in interest.
     "The petitioners have all filed claims for unpaid and delinquent retirement benefits arising out of vested retirement benefits. These benefits were earned while the judges and justices served in their judicial offices," the complaint states. It says that the plaintiffs' "beneficial interest" is based on service between early 1970 and late 1976.
     The judges say that under California Supreme Court precedent, that period of service is protected from a 1976 amendment to the government code which placed a cap on salaries and benefits.
     According to the complaint, the judges are "entitled to have their pension benefits which were vested during the 'protected period' adjusted annually in accordance with the C-PIU [consumer price index, category U) as determined by the California Department of Industrial Relations."
     Cost-of-living adjustments for judicial salaries are based upon that category of the consumer price index.
     On their claim for declaratory relief, the judges ask the court to find: "That petitioners are entitled to receive retirement pay, including accrued arrearages, with their benefits adjusted July of each year, in accordance with the CPI-U calculation of December to December each year for the service during the time they served during the 'protected period,' with the adjustments being calculated each year from 1970 forward."
     The judges claim the state has miscalculated retirement benefits, failed to give credit for military service, to adjust benefits for higher judicial salaries for superior court judges in counties where municipal and superior courts were unified, and improperly calculated time of service.
     They also say the state illegally canceled health benefits, and delayed or avoided payment of certain claims.
     The judges, surviving spouses and heirs are represented by Paul Mast of Laguna Woods.