► Do Federal Appeal Judges really deserve their $184,500 annual salaries? No.! Print E-mail

Do Federal Appeals Court Judges really deserve their $184,500 annual salaries? Of course not!

 

Federal Appeals Judges are lucky if they actually work 20 hours a week, meaning they are paid about $7,600 a week or $380 an hour. 

 

 
Many federal appellate judges and/or their cadre of enablers and apologists (lawyers) claim they are overworked, underappreciated and underpaid, all of which is nothing more than hyperbolic (BS) whining.
 
In the Jan/Feb, 2005 issue of Legal Affairs (http://tinyurl.com/bff8z),  9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski (presently Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit) thoroughly debunked the claims that federal appellate judges were overworked when he said:
 
  • Ninth Circuit judges generally have four (4) law clerks, and the circuit shares seventy (70) staff attorneys, who process roughly 40 percent of the cases in which we issue a merits ruling
  • When I say process, I mean that they [law clerks] read the briefs, review the record, research the law, and prepare a proposed disposition, which they then present to a panel of three judges during a practice we call “oral screening” [should be oral screwing for affected litigants]
  • It’s called oral because the judges don’t see the briefs in advance, and because they generally rely on the staff attorney’s oral description of the case in deciding whether to sign on to the proposed disposition.
  • Writing opinions is a difficult, time-consuming, exacting task. It is a reality of current judicial life that few judges draft their own opinions from scratch
  • Generally, judges will give instructions about how a case is to be decided and what points the opinion should make, but the initial drafting is almost always left to a law clerk.
  • If a judge chooses to fiddle a bit with an opinion drafted by his/her clerk, nobody outside chambers will know.
  • We do occasionally get opinions circulated that read like they were written by someone a year out of law school with no supervision. 
Judge Alex Kozinski goes on to state:
 
“The only guarantee one can have that judges are not rubber-stamping their law clerks’ work is each judges’ sense of personal responsibility.” What “personal responsibility” is Judge Kozinski alluding to? Clearly, it doesn’t apply to the vast majority of appellate judges!
 
The most disturbing facet of Judge Alex Kozinski’s rather startling admission, is that we now know that law clerks fresh out of law school are in many instances the sole decision makers in cases involving (death sentences), (b) legal/medical malpractice, (c) product liability, and (d) workplace discrimination.
 
An unmitigated joke; albeit a joke on pro se and/or represented litigants who actually were under the false impression that their claims for appellate relief were actually being reviewed by members of the judiciary.
 
I would openly invite everyone to contact their U.S. Senator and demand that they not even consider granting these ingrates any raise. Furthermore, you should demand that these judges actually be made to work for the $184,500 being paid to them by an overtaxed citizenry.
 
Given the fact that appellate judges earn $184,500 a year and actually are lucky to work 20 hours a week, their actual earnings are $369,000 (ca. 2009). If Congress increased their salaries by 50% they would actually earn $535,500 a year for working 20 hours a week. Isn’t America a great country?

 

 
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