California judges are closer to getting a payout from a long-running lawsuit alleging the state miscalculated their raises during the recession and interest on their earnings continues to pile up at a rate of 10 percent each year.
A state appeals court this week affirmed its previous decision ordering California to pay about $40 million in back wages, penalties and interest to some 3,000 current and former judges.
"We are pleased with the result and hope the judges, justices, and judicial pensioners will soon receive the money to which they are entitled," William Casey, an attorney for the judges, said.
The decision from the 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld its April 2017 ruling in Mallano vs. Chiang, a lawsuit filed by a former state judge who alleged the state illegally withheld judicial wage increases between 2008 and 2013.
A year ago, the appeals court wrote that current and former judges would receive between $14,600 and $18,700 in back wages. It described the wages as "wrongfully withheld."
Gov. Jerry Brown's administration complied with part of that decision. It recalculated wages for acting judges and incorporated the correct formula in salary increases they received in 2017.
Brown's administration fought the part of the decision that instructed it to pay back wages to the judges, however. State attorneys argued that previous decisions did not expressly award back wages and that the judges' lawyers did not correctly file a claim for retroactive compensation.
The appeals court in a 13-page ruling wrote that courts have correctly awarded damages in the lawsuit. It also rejected an attempt by state attorneys to reduce or cancel the 10 percent interest rate that is accumulating on the back wages and penalties.
"That decision is binding," the appeals court wrote.
Brown's office declined to comment on the appeals court decision.