(CN) – New York’s “judicial pay crisis” threatens the independence of the state’s judiciary, the New York Court of Appeals ruled. The Empire State’s highest appeals court found that the Legislature’s failure to increase judicial pay since 1998 violates the state Constitution.
“New York State ranks nearly last of the 50 states in its level of judicial compensation, adjusting for the cost of living,” Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. wrote. “It is estimated that, over the last 11 years, the real value of judicial salaries has declined by approximately 25 percent to 33 percent.”
He noted that while Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature have set aside money twice for judicial pay increases, they have not actually enacted legislation to appropriate the funds.
Pigott concluded his ruling on three consolidated appeals by noting that the Legislature has the power to determine the amount of a salary increase and by issuing this warning:
“Whether the Legislature has met its constitutional obligations in that regard is within the province of this Court. We therefore expect appropriate and expeditious legislative consideration.”