Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Governor’s Office Won’t Oppose Automatic Judicial Pay Hikes
CJA Reaches Compromise; Attempt to Repeal Statute Is Averted
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Judges Association has announced that it has worked out a deal with the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown under which efforts will cease to gain the Legislature’s repeal of a statute providing for automatic pay hikes for judges based on the average salary increase of other state employees.
The prospect of such a repeal loomed in the aftermath of a decision on Dec. 16 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle in favor of a class of more than 1,600 active judges and justices and at least 1,800 judicial retirees, led by former Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Robert Mallano. Berle found the state has been in violation of the statute, Government Code §68203, since 2008.
He rejected the state’s argument that decreases in average compensation, such as those caused by massive furloughs which began in 2009, should be taken into account, holding:
“Section 68203(a) uses the exclusive term ‘average percentage salary increase.’…The statute does not use the term ‘average percentage salary increase or decrease’; nor ‘average percentage salary net increase’; nor ‘average percentage salary change.’ ”
Under the accord, if accepted by lawmakers, §68203 will remain intact, but will be amended to provide that cognizance be taken of “the average percentage salary decrease resulting from the furlough or enrollment in a personal leave program of California state employees.”
A trailer bill to the 2016-2017 State Budget Bill will specify that when furloughs and leaves are taken into account and this results in an average increase “that is equal to or less than zero, the salary of each justice and judge…shall not be increased.”
Taylor Claims Victory
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eric C. Taylor, president of the CJA, said in an email to members on Friday, a copy of which was obtained yesterday:
“CJA averted a proposed repeal of an essential judicial salary statute, preserving the state’s obligation to provide automatic, non-political increases in judicial officer pay.”
“Unlike the state employees whose unions must regularly negotiate for salary adjustments, this important statute protects the public and the integrity of the judiciary by providing automatic salary increases without requiring judicial officers to negotiate with the Governor and Legislature for fair compensation. This system has served the public and judiciary well since its inception in 1980.”
“Left intact, Section 68203 will continue to greatly benefit the judiciary, near and long term, with anticipated collective bargaining increases. Repealed, Section 68203 would be a devastating loss to all bench officers and to the integrity of the courts.”
Mallano’s Case Continues
State Controller Betty Yee filed a notice of appeal on May 5.
The accord between the Brown Administration and the CJA would have no effect on the retroactive pay being claimed in Mallano’s class action or the bid for attorney fees.
However, the trailer bill will specify that any interest on unpaid salaries or retirement benefits will be limited to “the rate of interest accrued on moneys in the Pooled Money Investment Account,” managed by the State Treasurer’s Office.
The bill also specifies that “[p]ersons working for the California State University system, the judicial branch, or the Legislature are not considered California state employees for purposes of this subdivision.”
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company