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BUDGET WATCH : Judicious Example

December 25, 1991

California Supreme Court Justice Joyce L. Kennard knows about leading by example. How refreshing that a jurist of the state high court, aware that the economy is suffering, believes that pay cuts should not be limited to secretaries and clerks.

There are 95 appellate judges in California. Their salaries range from $113,000 to $127,000 annually. There are 900 or so secretaries, janitors, clerks and staff attorneys who work for those judges. Salaries for some of these positions start under $20,000.

Because of California's continuing budget crisis, the appellate courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts, which manages the state's judiciary, face a budget cut of $12.5 million this year. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas asked for volunteers to take a few days off this year without pay.

Although the precise number of volunteers is not yet known, many employees responded.

Lucas hopes that employees will volunteer for an average of four days without pay. One staffer already has offered to take 10 days off.

But so far, only one of the 95 appellate judges--Kennard--is among the volunteers. In explaining her decision to give up four days' salary, she said: "I feel I owe it to my staff. How can I ask them if I were not going to be subject to the same sacrifice that my attorneys and my secretary are subject to?"

"It's an enormous boost for morale that one judge is willing to share the hardship," said one staff attorney.

At Christmas, the spirit of sacrifice is a story always worth telling.

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