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The judiciary would be bringing a “frivolous lawsuit” if it takes political leaders to court to demand a raise for the state’s 1,200 judges, Governor Eliot Spitzer said Friday as legislators again prepared to leave Albany without voting judges a raise. “The judges should know better,” Mr. Spitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “I sympathize with their frustration. I have been, I think, among the strongest proponents of giving the judges the pay raise they deserve. I will continue to push for it. Having said all that, I don’t think litigation will be successful.” Lawyers at several firms already have begun preparing such a lawsuit (NYLJ, June 13), but Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye has said litigation would be the last resort and it would be “a dark day” if the judiciary were forced to sue for their first raise since January 1999. Mr. Spitzer said a suit “would diminish the level of discourse” on the pay issue. Like Mr. Spitzer, legislative leaders have expressed support for a raise. However, the governor has linked pay increases to his proposals for campaign finance reform, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has resisted those ideas, fearing that they might endanger the Senate Republicans’ control. Before Mr. Spitzer’s press conference, Chief Judge Kaye said in a statement that “words cannot sufficiently capture the disappointment and frustration” of her colleagues. However, she did not discuss the judiciary’s next step. “I want to be certain that no approach is overlooked, and that none is adopted precipitously,” she said. Gary Spencer, a court system spokesman, said the chief judge would not elaborate. Reached again later, he said the chief judge would have no comment on Mr. Spitzer’s remarks. Meanwhile, the Office of Court Administration has yet to receive advisory opinions from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo or Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli about the legality of the judiciary raising judges’ pay unilaterally without the involvement of the governor or Legislature, according to Chief Administrative Judge Ann T. Pfau (See Profile.

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