The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 30, 2009
L.A. court hires lobbyist to restore perks for judges
Today's editorial takes aim at a self-serving bill to enhance benefits for judges statewide that the state Judicial Council hopes will be part of a state budget deal. The proposed legislation, which you can find here, would add tens of millions of dollars in annual compensation obligations that would either have to be paid out of the judiciary's existing budget, or through additional appropriations.

Since publishing the editorial, we learned that the Los Angeles County courts has hired a high-priced lobbyist and former legislator to push for the legislation. That juicy tidbit was part a story by Cheryl Miller that ran this week in Cal Law, an online journal whose premium articles can only be accessed through a subscription.

As Miller notes, L.A. County lost a lawsuit last year filed by the group Judicial Watch that challenged the supplemental benefits the county was paying to its state judges.

Court Executive Officer John Clarke said two judges have said publicly that they will quit if the local benefits stop. When the county lost the Judicial Watch lawsuit, leaders of the Los Angeles County Superior Court dipped into the court's operating budget to retain a former state assemblyman to lobby the Legislature to re-establish the county's authority to offer judicial benefits. The court is paying Burt Margolin $10,000 a month through April for consulting and lobbying services, Clarke said.
This is a pretty fine kettle of fish. L.A. County and the state are both in fiscal crises, and yet the county is paying a lobbyist $10,000 a month to lobby for enhanced benefits that will have to be borne by our cash-strapped state.

One has to ask: Where is the justice?

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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