New Jersey trial judges have received a one-year salary increase of $8,000, effective July 1, making their annual salaries $149,000. They are the seventh-highest paid judges in the country. The raise provokes many questions.

Should raises be allowed when the state that pays them is in fiscal distress? How much are judges worth? Is $149,000 fair compensation? Is it too little? Too much? How can we tell? How are raises calculated? The public, even the judges themselves, can’t tell. As with most inside administrative judicial operations, the process is secret and complicated by the need to obtain legislative support. The public is uninformed. Transparency is neither a fact nor a goal.

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