State Supreme Court Chief Justice James Zazzali, who’s been agitating lately for better pay for judges, appears to have made a persuasive case to Gov. Jon Corzine.
The Star-Ledger reports today that Corzine’s budget proposal, disclosed this week, “includes money to raise the pay of state judges, the first installment of a three-year plan to bring them up to parity with the federal judiciary.”
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During a meeting with the editorial board of The Star-Ledger, the governor said he has agreed to a request by Chief Justice James Zazzali to begin boosting the pay of state judges. A Treasury Department spokesman later explained that the budget includes language authorizing the Judiciary to raise salaries a total of about $10 million over the next three years.
Zazzali recently said New Jersey’s 450 judges should be paid at the same rate as federal judges, which would mean a 17 percent increase for most of them. He warned the quality of the court system would suffer if it could not continue to attract and keep well-qualified judges.
The current pay scale ranges from $141,000 for Superior Court judges to $164,250 for the chief justice. Federal judges earn at least $24,000 more than their counterparts on New Jersey’s courts.
Zazzali, of Rumson, made a somewhat unusual public appearance earlier this month at Brookdale Community College, where he said the New Jersey judiciary is among the nation’s worst-paid.