With just a week to go in his short tenure as Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, James Zazzali of Rumson is continuing to lobby for higher judge’s salaries, telling an audience in Paramus yesterday that judiciary pay is “a disgrace,” according to a story in today’s Record of Hackensack.

Reprising remarks he made at Brookdale Community College in February, Zazzali told a gathering at Bergen Community College that, because of lousy pay, “Judges are leaving the bench; that hurts judges, but it also hurts the public. It’s an absolutely abysmal situation.”

The chief justice’s salary is $164,250, according to the Record; associate justices earn $158,500.

From the story:

Zazzali said that New Jersey Supreme Court justices have not had a raise in seven years, despite being the “third [or] fourth” most productive court in the nation. At the same time, he acknowledged that until the state’s budget problems were resolved, raises would be unlikely.

Zazzali, a Democrat and former state Attorney General, succeeded Chief Justice Deborah Poritz as chief of the court last October, when she turned 70 years old. Now, by law, Zazzali himself must step down; he turns 70 on June 17.

Early this week, Gov. Jim Corzine nominated Attorney General Stuart Rabner to replace Zazzali.

“Sure I’d like to stay on,” Zazzali said yesterday, according to the Record. “But maybe mandatory retirement is not so bad. It brings in fresh faces, and it’s good to give other people a chance.”

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