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To the Editor: When I reached Chambers early yesterday morning, as every morning this entire dreadful year of my life, I was greeted by words of a colleague about judicial pay. Some days the words have been simply hurtful, others helpful and compassionate. But in yesterday’s Law Journal, I found Genesee County Judge Robert Noonan’s questions in a letter to the editorespecially poignant, and I only slightly reframe them to address them to all of our partners in government, our leaders in Albany: What do the words “co-equal” and “independent” mean when referring to the New York State Judiciary? What meaning is there in your consistent statements that “the Judiciary deserves a long overdue adjustment of compensation” when none is forthcoming? And do you see the toll being taken on us as mere “collateral damage” – collateral to legislative pay increases, campaign finance reform and “other” issues? By coincidence, the Law Journal’s front page carried news of year-end bonusesas well as additional bonuses to law firm associates, whose starting salary already far exceeds ours. Some of those associates are not yet even admitted to the bar. On Monday, the Law Journal updates included news of the suspension from the barof the former deputy counsel of the New York State Power Authority, convicted of scheming to steal health care services. That executive branch employee earned $198,000, roughly $60,000 more than a justice of the New York State Supreme Court. We do not look with envy to the private bar or executive branch deputy counsels. That’s not the point. We could certainly leave the bench for more money. But we remain members of the New York State Judiciary, and we want to, out of a sense of privilege to serve the public in this way, to be part of our state and nation’s remarkable system of justice. That we choose to continue to serve in this fashion, however, does not excuse the injustice and disdain of nine years of absolutely frozen compensation, years of empty promises, and months of delay after delay after delay. This is the moment when, more than ever, we need the voice of the bar to be heard in Albany. The year 2007 cannot be allowed to slip away without this vital piece of business being accomplished.

Judith S. Kaye The author is the chief judge of the State of New York.

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