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Saturday, May 13, 2006

All Los Angeles County Judges Recused from Hearing Judicial “Double Dipping” Lawsuit

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Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rules All Los Angeles County Judges Recused from Hearing Judicial “Double Dipping” Lawsuit

Judicial Watch filed Lawsuit against Los Angeles County for allowing Judges to amass more than $100 million in Duplicate Benefits at Taxpayers’ Expense

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that fights government corruption and judicial abuse, announced today that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Chares W. “Tim” McCoy ordered that all Los Angeles Superior Court judges are recused from hearing Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County for allowing individual county judges to amass more than $38,000 annually in duplicate benefits and perks at taxpayers’ expense. Judge McCoy referred the case to the Judicial Council which will appoint an “out-of-county Judge” to hear the case. All matters in the lawsuit are “stayed’ until notification of a newly appointed judge.

“”[T]his Court, having consulted with the Presiding Judge, and having been delegated the discretion to do so, on its own motion orders that all bench officers in the Los Angeles Superior Court are recused from hearing this matter,” Judge McCoy ruled.

According to the California State Constitution, “[t]he Legislature shall prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record.” In 1997, the California State Legislature enacted a law providing that “[o]n and after July 1, 1997, the state shall assume sole responsibility for the funding of court operations,” including salaries and benefits packages. From that point forward, judges were no longer county employees. However, in clear defiance of the California State Constitution and California law, since 1998, Los Angeles County has provided at least $100 million in taxpayer funds to county judges in the form of “local judicial benefits.”

In March, Judicial Watch provided a draft of its complaint to the Los Angeles County officials involved, requesting they immediately terminate payment of “local judicial benefits.” The county refused, forcing Judicial Watch to take legal action. Given that the lawsuit involved payments to Los Angeles County judges, Judicial Watch requested in its complaint that the case be transferred to another county.

“Clearly this lawsuit provided a conflict of interest for Los Angeles County judges, and we are very pleased the court made the right decision to transfer the matter to another jurisdiction,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These local judicial benefits not only represent a colossal waste of taxpayer funds, but they are also flagrantly illegal. We look forward to making our case in whatever court the Judicial Council deems appropriate.”