Law Setting Benefits for Judges Okayed by Court

     (CN) – The California legislature fixed a constitutional defect in the way employment benefits are provided for the state’s superior court judges, a California appeals court ruled.

     A taxpayer, Harold Sturgeon, had first challenged judicial salaries in a 2006 lawsuit. The San Diego-based fourth district appeals court ruled in 2008 that Los Angeles County violated the state constitution by providing substantial employment benefits to its judges on top of salaries set by the state.
     The appeals court ruled at the time that the county had encroached on the state’s authority to determine judicial compensation.
     In response, the California assembly passed legislation guaranteeing the judges their present benefit levels. The county could terminate their obligation to provide benefits only with 180 days notice and not to sitting judges.
     Sturgeon again challenged the legislation as an unequal system. This time, the trial court ruled against him, and so did fourth district appeals court on appeal.
     “By setting broad policies and establishing a safeguard which will prevent any deviation from those policies, the legislature has fully satisfied the requirements of the constitution,” Justice Patricia Benke wrote for the court.

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