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January 01, 2008


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"If you overpay federal judges, you attract from the private sector people who are more productive as practicing lawyers."

In most professional fields this would be true - it would be true, for instance, of engineers. However, many lawyers are "productive" only in the sense that it is individually profitable to hire them, not that they increase social wellbeing. Imagine a litigator who is very effective at redistributing wealth from other people to his client. He might not increase social welfare at all - he may decrease it - but he might nevertheless be well compensated for his efforts. It may be true that the overall system depends on zealous advocates to uncover the truth (or whatever), but the marginal effect of a lawyer on social welfare might still be negative.

On a different note, I think that on average, judges are probably overcompensated. After all, Judge Judy makes $25 million a year, putting her salary well above first-year associates at most law firms.


Also, Judge Posner has blogged on this topic:


Kimball Corson

Federal and state judges' pay should be scaled significantly according to a Sunstein-like measure of the neutrality of their decisions. The more neutral their decisions, the higher their individual pay. Most Supreme Court Justices, by this test, need a major pay cut.


IIRC, the modern idea of the amateur in sporting competitions was developed in the UK, where it served to handicap those with limited resources. If you have to earn a living, serious training is much harder then for those who don't - unless you can earn a living through competition.

It looks like Posner understands that very well. If federal judges are underpaid, that would skew their demographics towards those who have substantial wealth, and those who expect, um.... future recompense for their decisions.

Joan A. Conway

I don't think the judges are overpaid if they are working at their job.

Many however lean heavily upon their staff for lots of their work.

Seeing someone like me in the courtroom would make any federal judge defer their work to their staff in self-defense.

Barbara Ann Jackson

re: Pay Raise For Some Judges' Is A Revolting Concept! Plus, New Orleans Federal Judiciary Call To Impeach Judge G. Thomas Porteous. . .

For people whose lives have been devastated because of federal judges' (or any judge's) lack of regard for established laws, talk of pay raises for judges is a revolting concept. Also, it seems that knowledge of the law IS NOT required in order to become appointed as a judge, nor to remain one. Like a certain New Orleans federal who
repeatedly granted motions, orders and rulings to lawyers despite that the named defendant in the lawsuit never was served the lawsuit. Even worse, the federal judge had absolutely no federal subject matter
jurisdiction over that state tort lawsuit for Conversion.

Posted on the www.lawgrace.org website is the court transcript portion from a hearing where that judge dictated his own rules,in utter disregard for removal statutes, although jurisprudence clearly states
that the grounds for removing a lawsuit to federal court must exist at the time of removal; and improper removal cannot be cured if FEDERAL SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION DID NOT EXIST. Moreover, no judge can
exercise jurisdiction over a defendant which has not been made a party to a lawsuit.

Because of railroading such as this, overall perceptions about judicial collusion and unlikelihood of receiving justice steers some people to televised courtrooms. But, then there are also hallmark examples such as former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' characterizations of Wrongs things as Right things. Further, it is common knowledge that many judges receive junkets and all sorts of perks -unfortunately from conflict of interests entities appearing in
some of their courtrooms.

But even more relevant, since this country's nationwide Mortgage Mess / Foreclosure Crisis situation affects every American in some way or another, New Orleans federal court systems comes to the forefront in
light of MANIFEST judicial collusion which abets mortgage giants FREDDIE MAC and WELLS FARGO in real estate and mortgage fraud
racketeering here.

FORECLOSURE FRAUD committed via DEBT COLLECTION abuse and deception, is the worst factor of the Mortgage Mess. Collectors file foreclosures naming DEFUNCT mortgage companies, or mortgage companies which NO
LONGER hold the note; and affix "ransom" amounts (collectors' fees) exceeding "Acceleration Clauses." When homeowners sue for "Unfair Debt Collection Practices," collectors get even more $$ from protracted
litigation while leading some lenders to believe the homeowner caused added legal expenses.

ACTUAL SITUATION: For a purported foreclosure debt of $86,000.00, filing under a non-existent mortgage company, collection attorneys racked up approximately a quarter of a million dollars in fees litigating lawsuits for various damages against their sham client. The foreclosed property was ultimately sold to a 3rd party for $37,000.00. (Dollar amounts approximate.) Securities Investors got nothing, nothing practical was accomplished by evicting the homeowners, property value declined in that neighborhood, and collectors made bundles! As an added measure to inflame courts and heighten chances of judicial favor, collectors propagate that defaulted property owners are costing their clients mega bucks. Using such false leverage with judges against people facing homelessness has to be the cruelest type of exploitation and maligning!

Moreover, the foregoing description regarding real estate racketeering and the New Orleans federal judiciary IS NOT the only blatant collusion, injustice, cronyism, and disparity. However, this scenario
of corruption reveals why crime, violence, poverty, oppression, disintegration of households is so pervasive.

Lastly, because of reported rampant abuse of power, in my opinion, without some type of merit raise system, some judges should not
receive raises! And the one in particular, New Orleans federal Judge Porteous whose impeachment Chief Justice Roberts is required to consider, should actually be in jail like his fellow judges who were
jailed in the "Bail Bonds Unlimited" / "Operation Wrinkled Robe" scandals.
How Justice Roberts deals with Judge Porteous will say a lot about his promise to enhance judicial integrity.
Here's some other links:

-FEDERAL JUDGES' Pay Raise; New Orleans Federal Judiciary Call To Impeach

-Viewpoint: Calls for Impeachment of N. O. Federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous"

-Mortgage Mess, Foreclosure Fraud and Impediments to Justice

-Casualties From New Orleans Ineptness and Corruption Coming To A City Near You
Barbara Ann Jackson (Katrina displaced from New Orleans)


Eric Posner: "First, the non-pecuniary benefits of being a judge might well swamp the cash benefits. We already know that partners will give up a million dollars a year to become a judge; would it make a difference if they give up only, say, $950,000 per year?"

Eric, please contact your nearest U Chicago econ undergraduate. Tell them that you don't understand something called 'marginal analysis'; ask them to explain it to you.

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