Pay raise issue leaves us wondering about judgment of the judges
August 5, 2008
Of all the positions on the public payroll, the ones you’d least expect there to be controversy would have to be those at the state’s Supreme Court. Those folks are supposed to be in charge of interpreting state law with precision and fairness.
That’s why the court’s attempt in January to order salary increases beyond the maximums approved by the Legislature for some of its staff calls into question its … well, judgment.
The justices later backed off the order, but only long after their initial order issued Sept. 27, and a request for raises for six people on Oct. 25. That request was refused and the court was advised to take the proposal before a legislative committee, prompting another order by the court that said the state law didn’t apply to the high court’s staff.
There was little ambiguity in the law, however, and the state’s personnel director and the attorney general’s office had little trouble discerning that the court’s request was unfounded. The court made a similar maneuver in 1989, with similar results.
The perception left behind, right or wrong, is that the court tried to use its influence to obtain raises for staff members that were larger than those allowed by law.
No damage done?
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We’re not so sure. The Supreme Court should be a beacon of fairness and integrity, and we’d like to think justices would be wise enough to steer clear of anything that could call that into question. This situation may fall short of wrongdoing, but it leaves the public to question the judgment of the highest judges in the state.
This editorial represents the view of the Nevada Appeal Editorial Board.