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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Bill preserves judges' extra pay

February 20, 2009|Victoria Kim

A state bill was quietly passed last weekend that would allow Los Angeles County judges to continue receiving about $46,000 in benefits that were ruled unconstitutional by an appellate court last year.

The bill, passed Saturday by both houses, lets stand any benefits provided to judges by counties as of July 1, 2008. It provides a legislative fix to the court ruling, which said the county-funded perks violated a constitutional provision requiring judges' pay to be determined by the Legislature.

The bill will be sent to the governor's desk along with the state budget package, said Curtis Child, legislative director for the California Courts.

Language in the bill bars counties from discontinuing the benefits before the end of a judge's term and prevents the county or its employees from being sued based on the benefits that have been paid.

The supplemental benefits -- which include a professional development allowance and individual retirement contributions -- were challenged in a lawsuit in 2006.

The California Supreme Court declined to take up the case in December, opening up the possibility of a steep pay cut for judges in the county.

-- Victoria Kim

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