Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Chief Justice Asks Retired Judges to Work Some Days Without Pay
By a MetNews Staff Writer
California Chief Justice Ronald M. George Friday asked the 400 retired judges who sit by assignment in the state trial courts to put in some unpaid service in order to help fill the courts’ budget gap, the Administrative Office of the Courts said yesterday.
The AOC said the judges are being asked to “consider voluntarily waiving compensation for at least one day of service in both May and June of this year.”
The chief justice said in a release:
“The state is facing a serious budget crisis and the judicial branch budget has not been spared from funding cuts during this fiscal year. The large number of judicial vacancies in the state, a steadily increasing caseload, and the continuing insufficient number of authorized judicial positions statewide have made the need for assigned judge assistance more crucial than ever.”
Under the Assigned Judges Program, the chief justice assigns retired judges, at the trial courts’ request, to assist with congested case calendars and to cover for judicial vacancies, absences due to illnesses, and disqualifications.
The AOC said that “despite close monitoring of the budget and efforts by the trial courts to more efficiently use their assigned judges, projections through the end of the fiscal year indicate that the program will exceed its funding by $500,000–$700,000.”
A spokesperson noted that the Judicial Council is proposing legislation that will enable the chief justice to close the courts statewide for one day per month. If the legislation passes, sitting judges will be asked to voluntarily waive one day of pay per month, beginning July 1, the AOC said.
The AOC itself, as well as the staffs of the appellate courts, have had a voluntary furlough program in place since Jan. 1. Participants take off one day per month and have accepted a 5 percent salary reduction.
“Together, all of these efforts will have a positive impact on the anticipated judicial branch budget cuts in the months ahead,” the AOC said.
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