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Pay for Judges

I have read with interest the comments of federal Judge Jim R. Carrigan and others (Part I, March 18) regarding their decision to leave the bench for private practice because of inadequate pay. Judge Carrigan was quoted as being dissatisfied because his $89,500 salary is so low compared to his former $300,000 earnings as a trial attorney.

While I agree that a competent attorney facing the substantial responsibilities as a federal judge should receive a salary greater than $89,500, I find it difficult to accept the premise that the pay is too low because the salaries in private law practices are so much higher. For those of us who have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for “malpractice” insurance premiums, automobile liability premiums, personal liability premiums, and inflated costs of products and services everywhere that require exorbitant liability insurance protection, it is no mystery as to where the $300,000 per year private legal practice earnings originate.

There are many pressures moving our society in the direction of tort reform, but the pace has been slow and hesitant. As federal judges begin to abandon their benches for fertile private practices that pay so much, perhaps we should now feel the need to intensify demands for the reform of our legal system that is so far overdue.

ROGER C. DUNHAM

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Santa Barbara


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