Judicial Sick Leave


 February 19, 2007

AB 31 - Rep. Pat Strachota and Sen. Ted Kanavas

 Sick Leave


Background: This bill bars Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, or circuit court judges from accumulating unused sick leave from year to year in his or her sick leave account for work performed.

Reason for Opposition: Being a judge is a full-time job, and like most full-time positions, they receive benefits such as sick leave.  Judges are on-call 24 hours a day, working with police if a search warrant is required or other emergency situations, and often work through illnesses so Court calendars do not fall behind. Unlike other state offices, judges are restricted from earning outside income in order to remain fair and impartial and therefore have no other means of receiving benefits such as sick leave.  These benefits are an important tool for judges and their families to receive the medical care they need. This bill would negatively impact Wisconsin's judicial recruitment and retention.  Private sector attorney salaries far exceed those of Wisconsin's judges.  The ability for judges to accumulate sick leave, convert it to credits and use it to pay health insurance premiums during retirement is an important benefit that helps attract high-quality lawyers to become judges.

This bill also eliminates incentives for experienced, well-qualified judges to remain on the bench.  Sitting, experienced judges are more likely to return to private practice if these benefits are eliminated.

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