MAY 29, 2012 · 4:06 PM

A tough sell, but judicial salaries should be raised — MLW May 3, 2012

A tough sell, but judicial salaries should be raised — MLW May 3, 2012
Judges always deserve a raise and will always be underpaid.  Anybody leaving over pay and benefits?  Such a resignee is always good press.A judge say age 59 gets about $130kish for 11 years=$1.42 million.
She gets 80% for life, say another 14 years=$1.45 million. Total a little less than $ 2.9m guaranteed. Plus a gold plated health plan for life worth, on a family plan, 25 years at say $2k per month for $600k. Thus guaranteed, $3.5m for 11 years of very hard work with how much time off and sick pay per year-eleven years in this example.This is very serous money.  Thus $3.5m divided by 11 years of labor equals $318k per year.  To structure a retirement plan in today’s economy would cost what in today’s money? A 14 year stream of payments sans cola for say 80% of $130k, beginning in year 2023, needs how much today in today market? Say 1/3 of the sum of payments of $1.5m equaling about $500k.  Judges sadly get no cola in retirement and at 4% annual inflation over the last 50 years, the earning/spending power of their retirement income  DECLINES 4% a year and thus at age 84 is worth almost 50% less than when it begins.  Not very fair but that is what it is.

Even a well deserved 10% raise will not effect the judicial candidates, but yes for the judges and the clerks  or the above numbers.  Never is right time for a judicial raise.  Do not forget the clerks who also will get a well deserved raise.

The raises should be cola’d but never will be. In 1970, the Superior Court judges got I believe about $30k. The AWW in 1970 was about $130 per week=say $6800 per year. The going rate for first year lawyers was $15k. Since 1970 the Mass.AWW has gone up, to over $1.1K per week= say $52k.  The multiplier would be what, about eight something.  First years now get about $150k plus, far more than in 1970, as $15k times eight is $120k.Thus using AWW for Massachusetts, the judges pay should be 8 times the rate in 1970 at  $30k = $240k.  Not in my life time will this ever happen. They now get maybe 50%.  Judges salaries should be pegged at the first year going rate in Boston as it is today, about at least $150k to 180k.  That at least would be a start.

Now we desire attorney conducted voir dire, numbers etc  and what else?  Maybe some support for some support?  Maybe now is the time?

Or do we just lock step in support.
Cheers and always remember the trial lawyers who carry the judges to their judicial heights.
They and all the clerks do need raises but amid layoffs and staff downsizing.  But Never Ever is a good time for such raises.
May 21, 2012 · 6:24 pm
Published in the Boston Globe on April 30, 2012. Very interesting read.