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WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee voted 28-5 on Wednesday to approve a bipartisan compromise for a 31% judicial pay raise, the product of a four-hour, late-night negotiation. The pay raise, along with changes in judicial pensions and the workload for senior judges, now goes to the full House. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider its own version of a judicial pay raise at a meeting tomorrow. The pay bill, not yet in final form, would do the following: • increase district court judges’ annual salaries to $218,000; • repeal a 1981 law requiring congressional approval of cost-of-living increases for judges; • replace the so-called rule of 80 — retirement with pension of full salary after 15 years of service and 65 years of age — with the rule of 84: 17 years of service and age 67; • require senior judges to carry a one-third caseload instead of the current one-fourth; and, • reduce the pensions of judges who leave the bench for more lucrative jobs by $1 for every $2 earned above $218,000. “Judges’ pay has not kept pace with inflation and the growing disparity between their salaries and the salaries of their peers is damaging the institution’s ability to attract the best and brightest to the bench,” said House Judiciary Chair John Conyers, D-Mich. “This pay raise is far from lavish.” The legislation is a “compromise,” said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., who negotiated the package with Rep. LaMar Smith, R-Tex., and representatives of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Berman said he would have preferred a higher increase, but believed the other changes, which would make the judiciary once again a “capstone” to a career and not a stepping stone to a higher paying job,” made for a fair and good compromise.

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