Gavel to Gavel: What on the Court Calendar

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Judges closer to winning their raises

Borough judges will soon be able to buy new robes now that their long sought−after raises could become a reality.

It was announced this week that the judges suing for pay raises just won a major legal hurdle when the New York State Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously ruled in their favor.

For the last several years, local judges, most notably Justice Arthur Schack, have been demanding a bump up from their $100,000+ salary (depending on where they sit). Justices claim that they haven’t received a raise in pay in over 14 years, although they have been asked to bear “staggering case loads” that are far heavier than their counterparts in federal court.

They sued the state legislature in Manhattan Supreme court last year, claiming that the legislature had “violated the constituti­onally−m­andated separation of powers” by linking judicial and legislative pay raises.

When a Manhattan Supreme Court judge agreed with their argument, as well as proclaimed that the state owed its judiciary about ten years worth of back pay, the state immediately appealed.

But the state received no relief from the five−judge appellate panel, who also found in favor of the suing jurists.

“The Legislature, by subordinating the Judiciary to its whims and caprices in matters of salary adjustments, brings the Judiciary closer to the world of politics than is tolerable for the disinterested functioning of a court system that must act for “the benefit of the whole people,” (O’Donoghue, 289 US at 533),” the panel wrote. “The fact that salary adjustments for the third branch of government became politicized as the by−product of an interbranch conflict removes this case from the otherwise mechanical processes for adjusting judicial compensati­on.”

“When judicial compensation becomes politicized, a line has been crossed in contravention of the warnings long articulated in what has become a deeply rooted constitutional jurisprude­nce,” they continued. “The basic tenet of the separation of powers doctrine, to promote and maintain the independence and stability of each branch of government, has been violated.”

The state has 90 days to either find a way to come up with the money owed or appeal the case further, this time to the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

Probation for Spitzer’s planner

The Fort Greene woman who was charged with “arranging” former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s tryst with a high−class hooker was sentenced to a year’s probation this week, federal authorities announced.

Temeka Rachelle Lewis, 32, pleaded guilty in May 2008 after she was indicted in the federal probe that brought down Spitzer, who was known in the Emperor’s Club VIP escort service as “Client Number 9.”

Lewis pleaded to promoting prostitution and money laundering. She was among four defendants in the case involving the Emperor’s Club VIP escort service that ultimately ended Spitzer’s legislative career after just 14 months in office.

The other defendants in the case were Mark Brener, 62, of Cliffside Park, N.J., who was accused of running the ring; Tanya Hollander, 36, of Rhinebeck, N.Y.; and Cecil Suwal, 23, who lived with Brener.

Investigators say the ring made more than $1 million. A three−diamond prostitute costs $1,000 per hour; a seven−diamond prostitute could fetch $3,100 and the highest paid, $5,500 an hour, authorities said.

Bookers like Lewis arranged meetings between clients and more than 50 prostitutes in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, London and Paris, prosecutors said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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