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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Senator Patrick Leahy and 23 Senate cosponsors have introduced a bill that will increase the pay for the federal judiciary by 29%. (This was lowered from 51% in the original bill.) The Senate bill is S.1638, The Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007. The House of Representatives has a corresponding bill, H.R.3753 that proposes to raise the pay for the judiciary by about 40%. Both the Senate and the House have scheduled these bills for debate. What is so appalling is that President Bush recently vetoed H.R.1585, The 2008 Defense Authorization Act, which would have raised the pay for the military by 3.5%. President Bush wants a 3% pay raise for the military. Thus, the judiciary would be receiving a pay raise approximately 10 to 17 times the proposed raise for military personnel who are risking their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is at a time when the judiciary has become arrogant and elitist and treats average Americans and members of the working class with contempt and disdain. The Bush administration has packed the federal courts with members of the ultra-right Federalist Society. Few members of this extremist organization have ever served in the military or made any sacrifices for their country. I have written to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the Senate cosponsors of S.1638 to express my opposition to S.1638. I have also written to the House sponsor and cosponsors of H.R.3753. But it is imperative that members of the military ask Congress why federal judges deserve such a massive pay raise when the military makes all the sacrifices and is being paid so little relative to federal judges. (A district court judge currently makes about $165,000; circuit court and Supreme Court judges and justices make more, of course.) I have put a great deal of effort into understanding this issue and believe federal judges might have more empathy for average Americans if they shared they same economic fate. I would like to hear some feedback and perhaps connect with others who share my views. Please contact your Congressman/woman and your Senators and ask them why federal judges are so much more deserving than military personnel. Also, ask them how they intend to vote on these bills. I can provide the names of all the Senate and House sponsors and cosponsors of these bills as well as their D.C. addresses if you care to write them, too. You can also use the website http://www.govtrack.us/ to research these bills and follow them through Congress. Now is the time to act.
    Peace and love to all of you. Lisa

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    The reason the judges should be paid more is that they should be compensated for their experience and education. You have to recognize that these judges are paid far, far less than others in their profession with comparable experience and education. This would still hold true even with the 40% raise.

    You need to educate yourself about what professionals make in the federal government and elsewhere. Did you know, for example, that there are medical doctors at VA Medical Centers making more than $250K a year. Conversely, federal judges have gone for year after year after year with raises less than the amount of inflation. This was going on even when the economy was booming. This is all due to the fact that Congress had tied the judges pay raises to their own. As explained below, there is just one problem with tying raises together in this way.

    We all know that elected representatives don't vote themselves pay raises because they are afraid doing so will offend voters and, after all, they have so many other ways they can make money (e.g., Honoraria or being asked by a major donor to sit on a board or invest in a real estate deal). These folks in Congress even get to keep the campaign war chests when they leave office. So an unintended consequence of the way these representatives conduct their affairs is that, by tying the judges pay to theirs, they shaft the judges. Give these judges a break. They have to pay for college just like everyone else. They need family vacations like everyone else. They should not be forced into living at a level so dramatically below other lawyers with similar levels of experience and ability. The most outrageous example are the SCOTUS justices. Not only do they make decisions impacting millions of americans, but these decisions impact future generations of millions of americans. Yet, they get paid less than 1st year associates who spend their days in libraries doing "research." What a joke (and unfortunately, a cruel one played on the judges).

    Just recognize that what the judges want is what they have lost over the years because of Congress' decision to link its pay to the pay of the federal judiciary. Could you imagine going 20 plus years in a row with an annual pay increase less than the inflation rate? Talk about a morale buster. No one in any other job would tolerate this type of mistreatment. We should not expect the judges to either. Its just not fair.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Your anonymous response conveniently ignores the central premise of my posting; it is truly unfair that at a time of war servicemen are being restricted to minimal pay raises while the judiciary is seeking a pay raise of over 50%. While Congress has apparently reduced this amount, they still appear to be supporting a pay raise for the judiciary ten times the raise proposed for the military. Our brave service personnel understand public service and sacrifice for their country. Perhaps the putative judiciary members should forgo accepting judicial appointments until they have satisfied their own need or greed for money. Then they might be willing to make a financial sacrifice for their country to serve as judges. An example of true public service can be found at the following link: http://kai03.qwest.com/WindowsLive/M...CDAA6FFFFFFFFF

    Let’s balance who should receive the larger raise, a person that has lost his eyes for his country but continues to serve, or a person making a six-figure income that is upset by new attorneys making more money. Moreover, if you look at judicial pay for the last forty years rather than cherry-pick a date, you will find that their pay has tracked inflation. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/02/15/...-the-evidence/

    Unfortunately, ideologues in Congress have been appointing younger and younger candidates to the bench so as to have an impact long after the President that appointed them has left. This has increased pressure on Congress to increase pay from some younger judges who appear to envy their classmates’ increasing wealth. The answer is to seek appointment later in life. The previous practice of appointing older, less ideologically driven judges served this nation well. Your letter seems to be at its core elitist. Apparently, only judges from Ivy League schools deserve large pay raises even during times of war. I would point out that military personnel would also like raises to send their children to college.

    Have these Ivy League judges even served the interest of military members? Military personnel have died due to the release of detainees from Gitmo that was caused by Ivy League United States Supreme Court judges and their Ivy League clerks. Perhaps judges that have had more contact with the common person would have considered that their decision would kill military personnel largely recruited from working class members of the United States.

    An interesting program is currently appearing on Showtime. I believe the title is Maxed Out: Easy Credit and Hard Times. Within the program it gave the story of military personnel that have served this country but have lost their homes due to the low wages provided to them by the military. Sorry if I am more sympathetic to struggling military personnel than I am to elitist judges who have made no sacrifices for this country. Low income people, including the military, have been victimized by credit card companies that have engaged in activities such as shredding payments to maximize late fees. Of course, such actions are illegal and can result in punitive damages when found out. But wait! Our present Supreme Court has limited punitive damages in a case that saved Exxon billions and will allow predatory lenders to evade large punitive damage awards. It sends the message to corporate America that regardless of their behavior, no huge penalties will be assessed. Ivy League judges now protect companies staffed with Ivy League attorneys. You advocate that giving these judges a raise should be a higher priority than military personnel receiving poverty wages. I believe the military should be the priority. I come from a military family. My father was a career Naval officer who received the Navy Cross during World War II. However, I am a blue collar worker who was victimized by the present elitist judiciary that serves its own interests over the general public. Please review the judicial misconduct complaints at the following link to illustrate my position. (Please keep in mind that the district court judge who ruled against us resigned two months after I filed these complaints and sent copies to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
    http://utahtransitworker.org/index.html

    In closing, I advocate that readers of this blog contact their congressional delegation and argue for parity among the proposed pay raises. If those representatives are unresponsive, readers should contact their opponents, since all of the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are seeking re-election this year.

    Happy 4th of July to all Americans and particularly those members of the military serving overseas. Lisa

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    No, Bombsquadron6, I have not conveniently ignored anything. Rather, it is clear to me that you are highly envious that the judges may in fact get the raise they need to erase two decades of de facto pay cuts. This view of the federal pay system is not only childish, but very naive.

    Of course, the members of the military deserve more as well - particularly those who serve in combat. But that is not a reason to say that these Article III public servants shouldn't be paid an amount proportionate to their responsibilty. The judges know that they should not be paid at near the level of partners in major law firms. They know this even though their jobs carry far, far more responsibility than those persons. Why? Because the judges know they are public servants. However, being a public servant does not mean that a lawyer with 40 times the experience of a newly minted attorney should be paid less than that attorney who spends his days in a library doing research.

    All the judges want is to have their pay at least partially restored by two decades of de facto pay cuts. I do not see how any reasonable person could say they are greedy.

    Bombsquadron6, you need to recognize that lawyers with the degree of education and experience of most Artilcle III judges are mulit-millionaires and make 5 times or more per year then these judges. These judges are not only paid a fraction of what these lawyers make, but many have spent more than $100,000 on their education. If the judges' pay is so denegrated by comparison to those lawyers who possess a comparable degree of experience, then the only attorneys who will take the job will be (1) those who are so rich they don't need money or (2) those who want to use it as a political stepping stone to something else. That is not what you want. If too many of the latter types fill the position of Article III judge, then the predictable result will be that the the federal court system will become politicized as the stone steppers try to curry favor with the powerful and influential. These judges often hear and decide cases where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, if not more; trust me, as a result, they come into contact frequently with the powerful and influential members of the legal community. Conversely, if only the ultra rich take the job, then you will more likely have a federal judiciary that will have skewed view of the world (and one that is highly pro-big business). No one wants this. Instead, what we should want is a federal judiciary that is not only highly qualified, but also reflects the cultural diversity of America.

    My core point is this, Bombsqudron6: perhaps the whole federal pay system, military and civilian, needs revamping. If you don't want to see that, however, then keep begrudging the judges a fair raise. You see, the federal government is too big for the entire system to be revamped all at once. Surely you have to realize that. You have to be realistic and practical about this issue. One group has to be first in this matter. Then another, and another after that and so forth. Put another way, a rising tide lifts all boats. All you will do by spewing jealousy to our elected representatives about the judges' pay is encourage them to think to themselves that perhaps no group deserves a fair raise -- including the military. Most members of Congress would like that -- as you know, they are not exactly known for being proactive at resolving problems and it would give them an excuse to do nothing with regard to the issue of pay for persons employed by the U.S. government.

    For all the above reasons, I encourage every reader of this blog to contact their senators and representative and sincerely tell them you support the judges' raise. In the same conversation, tell them that the military also should get better pay and he or she should introduce legislation to effect that change. I think this strategy makes much more sense, and for the reasons stated Bombsquadron6's stategy will just boomerrang against the members of the military and other federal employees in their effort to obtain better pay.

    I hope everyone has a great Fourth, and I wish you all the best.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, I am a blue collar worker by choice. I came from a family that provided me every opportunity but, like my father, who chose the military, I am not motivated by money. I can assure you also that I am not motivated by envy. Rather, I am motivated by a sense of justice and fundamental fairness. The judges who are complaining the loudest about their pay are envious of attorneys making far more. You do not address the issue of elitism that I brought up and you make no comment on the judicial misconduct complaints which I cited to as evidence of this elitism. Please comment. When the judiciary decides to reform itself and address the misconduct and corruption that we experienced and documented then, and only then, should we consider granting a substantial pay raise. Many attorneys have chosen career paths which pay substantially less than federal judges. Examples would be attorneys serving the poor and protecting the environment. Perhaps we should recruit from their ranks. You only want to compare judges' salaries to corporate and Wall Street attorneys. Without the raise, judges will choose to serve for public service reasons rather than the pay. Some will have made money and not need a greater salary, others will be satisfied by a salary that is well over $150,000 per year. I would like to see any evidence you have that a substantial pay raise will result in a judiciary that is more responsive to the military and the working class. This crying for additional pay has coincided with the appointment of younger and younger judges and, ironically, with judges that have been rated lower by the ABA at their time of appointment. We don't have a better judiciary deserving of a massive pay raise but a greedier judiciary. Many military officers are highly educated and forgo much larger salaries to serve their country, including JAG officers. The bottom line is, during a time of war it is the people that are risking their lives that should receive the higher pay raises. When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are over then you will have a better argument. Until then, to expect military personnel to serve and then lose their homes due to inadequate pay, but give 50% pay raises to judges while claiming that no additional money can be paid to our service personnel, is unconscionable. Perhaps your unwillingness to identify yourself is because you have a personal stake in a pay raise. I would ask that readers of this blog review the links I included in my previous post and decide for themselves who has the better argument here. I stand by everything I have written.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    OK Bombsquadron6. If you want to encourage an environement where the military does not get the raise they need, just keep taking the position you advocate. I worked for the government almost 20 years. I have seen this over and over and over again. Jealous, childish complaining among groups that advocate against each other (e.g., you should not get your pay raise until I get mine) almost always results in the same thing: Washington stalement, where no one gets what they want.

    I am attorney with almost 30 years experience. Many of those years was spent as a U.S. prosecutor in one of the nation's largest U.S. Attorney's Offices. I can tell you this: in this country, there are some really smart, great lawyers and there are many really, really bad lawyers. You call it elitism, but the fact remains that people who are good at what they do are paid well. That is why you are unlikely to find top quality legal talent from the group of attorneys who serve the poor. In fact, I have seen lawyers who got jobs as federal judges that were frankly not very qualified. You could totally see it in the way they conduct their trials and their reversal rates. These types typically do not follow the law, but take the approach that they are the law! If that is what you want, then fine. If you want a top quality federal judiciary then the sensible thing to do is stop giving them these de facto pay cuts. Trust me, if you hire based on those who serve the poor you will more likely end up with judges who mean well but lack the ability and the temperment to do the job correctly. I am not speaking as a person who does not know what goes on in the federal court system. I have participated in many thousands of federal judicial proceedings -- all the way from detention/probable cause hearings to pretrial conference to bench trials and jury trials to circuit court arguments. Please also recognize that, for years, these judges rates of increase have been less than the military. There are some years they get no raise at all. Other years they get "raises" in the 1.5 to 1.7% range.

    Sure the military makes sacrifices, particularly in times of war. So do top lawyers who decide to serve the public as judges after having spent more than $100000 on their education, even though they have been paid less than a first year law grad who spends his days in the library doing research. Remember, these judges often hear and/or decide the most intricate, complicated cases often involving hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more (e.g., the Exxon Valdez case). Some of these cases impact the lives of millions of americans and future generations of americans. Trust me: you do not want anyone in these jobs but top quality legal talent. Anything less could result in great harm to many. Even when bad judge's decisions are uncovered and reversed by the appellate system, those proceedings can result in the unnecessary expenditure of millions. All this money could instead be devoted toward appropriate pay increases to members of the military.

    Again, I reiterate I am all for a fair raise for the military. If legislation is introduced I will call my representative to voice my support. It is not incongruent that both groups should get fair raises. Heck, the cost of the President's trip to China to view the opening ceremonies next month would alone pay for the judge's raise. Eliminating farm subsidies for multimillionair farmers would help pay for the military's raise. So would outlawing earmarks on congressional spending bill (also known as the government sponsored congressman reelection fund). You see, the problem here is not that the judges are seeking a raise to make up for 20 years of annual de facto pay cuts. The problem is that Congress wastes so much money on this and on that pet project that the Article I branch of government fails to properly prioritize and thus mismanages the federal budget.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, Please stop being condescending to me and how dare you compare the sacrifices that the military makes in blood to an elitist judge having to give up his country club membership. You need to reread the story about the soldier that has lost his eyesight but continues to serve his country. http://kai03.qwest.com/WindowsLive/M...CDAA6FFFFFFFFF

    As the link in my previous posting demonstrates, judiciary's pay has kept up with inflation. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/02/15/...-the-evidence/

    This is not the case for many Americans. Moreover, I reject your contention that attorneys that choose to serve the poor or protect the environment or serve the military are less competent because they make less. No, often times people get paid more to leave there conscience at home. For example, many subprime mortgage brokers made fortunes because they were willing to exploit people. A judiciary filled with people motivated by money is not a better judiciary. A better judiciary would be created by having a mechanism to independently review alleged misconduct by judges. In my case, the very judges that were accused of impropriety were on the judicial council that decided the merits of the complaints. Of course, the complaints were dismissed. http://utahtransitworker.org/index.html You have yet to address my arguments about corruption in the judiciary. We fought back and documented it but you do not want to acknowledge that what was done to us was misconduct and corruption at its worst. I ask again for your comments on our case.

    Despite your argument for elitism, our last three presidents had Ivy League educations and Ronald Reagan did not. Which president do you believe most Americans would say had better judgement? We need to draw judges from a broader spectrum than just corporate attorneys and a large pay raise is not needed to achieve that goal. Meanwhile, the military is suffering and needs a large pay raise to survive. Only when the elitists such as yourself begin to suffer will that occur. My postings are not childish, however, your name calling clearly is. Your assertion that giving a pay raise to judges will assure better raises for the military is illogical and without any factual basis. As many in America are now realizing, what is best for the 1% of America is not necessary the best for the rest.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Well, Bombersquadron, I hope you get in a big legal scuff in federal district court someday and end up in court with one of the many incompetent legal minds I have seen often over the years, especially in the state system where you are more likely to find stone steppers. I hope you end up with a judge who causes you to lose big, big bucks because the person just doesn't know what he or she is doing or this person has some other agenda at work, and the legal principles involved in the case are way over his or her head. Then, maybe you will understand that this is very important business about the quality of the legal minds we place in these positions. You speak as a theorist, but I am speaking as one who has been there and seen it. I have seen judges make just terrible decisions just to teach the litigant's lawyer a lesson! I have seen bad judges bend over backwards to help lawyers from big law firms win their case because that firm donates to his or her campaign or is the ally of their political ally. I have seen judges who are easily manipulated because they frankly are not that sharp. There is nothing worst than a weak judiciary. Just one bad decision is just one really big case and guess what -- the government will be forced to spend as much money dealing with that decision than it would cost to give the entire military a fair raise. You call it elistism and say "how dare you this, and how dare you that." Your post contains passion, but is completely void of logic. Like everything, if you want top quality product, you have to pay for it and legal talent is no different. And by the way, there is no way that a person can get "raises" in the amount of 0%, 1.5%, 1.7% or 2.2% a year and be called greedy by wanting more. Just because a WSJ article speaks about the issue does not make it so. You should read what the ABA says about the issue.

    I say this to you, Bombersquadron. How dare you insinuate that I am against giving the military fair raises, especially those who have served in a war zone. I am not against that at all. Rather, I am all for it. Please don't use such inflammatory language as a smokescreen to divert the readers' attention.

    Like I say, keep pushing the issue Bomberquandron and the likely result is no one will get a fair raise. Your mentality will just encourage what we see everyday in Washington: political stalement. Conversely, if everyone supports everyone else getting a fair raise, then the result might be more favorable to all concerned. Put another way, instead of complaining about so called elistist judges, you might be better served to complain about Bush spending no telling how many millions flying with his entourage to see some athletic event in China, or a congressman in Alaska demanding money so he can build a bridge to nowhere. In Texas, we have a congressman who got the government to spend $7 million converting a drainage ditch to a waterway no one uses. There are examples such as these in almost every congressional district. That is the real reason why there seems to be so little money to go around -- the judges have nothing to do with it. There is so much waste that there is easily money available for everyone to get a fair raise if the waste would stop.

    If the members of the military do not want to get a fair raise and want to have a weak, nonindependent federal judiciary, then they should follow Bombersquadron's advice. If you want to have a government that fairly compensates its men and women in uniform and the men and women who decide cases that impact the lives of 300 million americans and future generations of those americans, follow my advice. Tell your senators and congressman that both groups should get fair raises and that Congress should stop government waste by stopping the pork barrel spending and other unnecessary spending.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase: Addendum

    I am sorry, Bombersquadron, but I did not comment the case your last post mentioned. I am not familiar enough with the facts or law to make an appropriate analysis.. However, I will give you a couple of stories about my less memoriable encounters with the federal judiciary that may shed some light on your situation.

    In Houston, there is a district judge who had an incredibly explosive temper. One day I was attending the last hearing we were to have before a drug conspiracy trial. The judge looked down at the lawyers and asked: okay, what is this case about. One of the defense lawyers said something and the judge suddenly started screaming at the top of his lungs: "DON'T YOU LOOK AT ME THAT WAY." I was completely taken aback because all I was doing was standing respectfully before the bench. I apolgized profusely, but for what, to this day I don't know because I did nothing wrong.

    On another ocassion, I was handling a motion to revoke probation before a federal judge in another Texas city. He had this local, local rule where he wants people to stand when he addresses them. This is different than any other judge I have ever dealt with, and frankly, I was not familiar with this unwritten rule. Well, he started making comments about the evidence. Then, he turned as red as a beet and screamed at the top of his lungs: "YOU STAND UP WHEN I AM TALKING AT YOU." I was so embarrassed because I have never been treated so unprofessionally before. I have since learned this judge was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing a subordinate.

    My point behind these stories. There will always be people in this world who are loose cannons. There will be othes who just crave power, and in the realm of their cases no one is more powerful than a federal judge. Now both these men had very, very good credentials before they took the job. So, the issue is not only an issue of the quality of one's legal mind. That is only half of it. The other half has to do with temperment. Some people just do not have the temperment to handle the position. In the legal profession, we say those people have "black robeitis". Perhaps that was the experience you had. In any event, do not throw the baby out with the bath water. In appointing federal judges, they should all have impeccable legal credentials, just as these men possess. However, they should also be subjected to psychological testing, and they must pass the testing as a prerequesite for obtaining the job. I have long advocated this pre-requisite, but no one has listened. The job involves too much power and responsibility to have a person sitting on the bench who is not mentally and emotionally as solid as a rock.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    You choose not to comment on our case. Fine. But judicial misconduct and corruption occur far too frequently, usually to average Americans who have no ability to fight back. Attorneys often don’t want to fight it because they must continue to argue cases in front of these same judges, who protect one another. You advocate a substantial raise for judges that have not been held accountable for their actions and thus do not deserve a raise. Military men and women have clearly demonstrated their worthiness for a raise and should receive a substantial increase immediately. Your arguments have only convinced me that the judiciary does not deserve even the meager raise being given to the military. Until the judiciary devises a method to keep its rogue judges in line it should not receive any pay raise. Accountability it is a wonderful concept. I am in Coronado, California enjoying my 4th of July vacation. Yesterday, at the parade, we were thrilled to see so many military men and women representing this nation. Young men and women who truly do make sacrifices for this nation and are proud of it marched in dress uniform. Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, men now all in their 80’s and 90’s, rode in convertibles in the parade. As they went past us, the cheers from the crowds were as loud as the engines of F-18’s. Frankly, after seeing them, I just wasn’t interesting in answering your posts. The readers can be the final arbitrators of whose argument makes more sense.

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