A group of New York State judges who are among those being forced to retire at the end of the year are suing court leaders in Suffolk County court to try to keep their jobs.
Justice Daniel J. Tambasco, who lives in Suffolk, is among four appellate judges who filed suit last month to block state court leaders’ decision not to recertify 46 judges statewide older than 70, including seven who preside over cases on Long Island. Court leaders cited coronavirus-related budget cuts for declining to recertify the judges.
“These 46 judges will receive full pension payments as opposed to their yearly salaries,” the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit. “The cost to the public is virtually the same.”
State law requires septuagenarian jurists biannually apply for recertification between ages 70 and the mandatory retirement age of 76. The decision not to recertify the 46 came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut the judiciary’s budget by $300 million to help close a $14 billion state deficit. As the Press has reported, the affected LI judges are three in Nassau County, three in Suffolk, and one appellate justice.
“This extremely difficult but necessary determination will save the court system more than $55 million over the next two years,” Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks wrote Sept. 29 in a memo to judges statewide.
A Suffolk judge reportedly issued a temporary restraining order last week blocking the forced retirements slated for Dec. 31 and allowing the judges to remain on the bench while the case proceeds.
“If they win, the resignation goes in the shredder,” attorney James Catterson, who represents one of the judges, told the court Friday during a virtual hearing, according to Courthouse News. “If they lose, it’s all over.”
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