Friday, July 22, 2011

New Jersey Judge Sues Govt. for Pension Cut: Violates Judicial Independence

Making claims eerily similar to those advanced by judges in Ireland in a recent memorandum to the government, a New Jersey state judge has sued the state government over cuts to his pension. His argument: the pension cuts threaten the "independence" of the judiciary. Here's more from the WSJ:
Judge Paul DePascale, who sits on the Superior Court bench in Hudson County, filed a lawsuit in state court Thursday challenging the laws signed last month by Gov. Chris Christie.
Judges, who must retire at age 70, are now required to contribute 12% of their salary, up from 3%. The state Constitution says that judicial salaries "shall not be diminished during their term of appointment." The lawsuit also said that an earlier draft of the legislation cited the constitutional requirement.
It's at least the second lawsuit filed challenging the cuts, which require current workers to contribute more of their salaries to receive the same pensions.

The state has reacted in predictable fashion, with Governor Christie's press secretary bluntly stating: "Of all classes of New Jersey state employees, judges of the Superior Court have enjoyed the lowest pension contribution rate and received the richest pension benefits. Judge DePascale should probably just say thank you and look forward to a comfortable retirement."

More from the New Jersey Newsroom:
DePascale said the deductions will increase "steadily and dramatically’’ over the next seven years. He said his pension deductions would increase $14,849.94 by 2017, when he would be paying $18,137.38 into the pension system.
The benefits’ increase would make the health care contribution for judges go from $2,475 annually to up to $5,230.86, depending on the type of coverage.

Some of my previous posts on the judges' pay issue are here, here, and here.