Last Updated: December 15, 2011
In 1998, the state of California took over funding of all state trial court operations, including responsibility for payment of salaries and benefits to trial court judges. Los Angeles County, which is home to one of the largest trial court systems in the United States, continues to pay “local judicial benefits” to its judges to supplement the compensation and benefits they received from the state. This “double dipping” by trial court judges costs Los Angeles County taxpayers an estimated $20 million per year. In the spring of 2006, Judicial Watch filed a “citizen-taxpayer” lawsuit against the county seeking to have these payments declared unlawful and to enjoin future payments.Following the trial court’s ruling upholding the payments, Judicial Watch appealed, and on October 10, 2008, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division One, reversed the ruling of the trial court and remanded the case.In July 2009, the trial court again upheld the payments, but Judicial Watch provided a Notice of Appeal on September 28, 2009. However, in December 2010, the lower court’s judgment was affirmed, so Judicial Watch filed a petition for review, which was denied on March 16, 2011.While Judicial Watch firmly believes that all judges should be adequately and fairly compensated for their very important work, such compensation must be paid in strict accordance with the law. The case demonstrates Judicial Watch’s continuing efforts to promote integrity in the judicial system and commitment to the rule of law.
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