Legislative Auditor Calls Judges Insurance Policies Excessive!
The numbers here seem incredible. 13 Criminal District judges held 249 policies in 2010!!! That’s 19 policies each at a cost of $14,500!!
This isn’t a new issue, Rafael Goyeneche’s Metropolitan Crime Commission, over a year ago, issued a tough report questioning the judges’ practice of spending their multimillion dollar judicial expense fund.
At the time, D.A. Cannizzaro wrote a letter that threatened the judges with criminal charges. Cannizzaro also admitted that while he was a judge, he also partook in the extra insurance! The pot is calling the kettle black!! I’m not surprised that no charges have been filed at this time, but they certainly could be at a later time. Judges are now recusing themselves from cases that are tried by Cannizzaro, citing the accusations laid out in his letter.
Analyzing three years, state auditor Daryl Purpera discovered the criminal, civil and city court judges used money from the public trough to purchase more than $800,oo0 in supplemental insurance on top of their state funded health care plans.
State law forbids judges from receiving additional income above the judicial salary set by statute at more than $130,000/year, and it specifically states that insurance premiums can only be paid at the same rate as other state employees.
In February 2012, the judges cancelled the policies after the Metropolitan Crime Commission report came to light. They paid back $71.983 in cash surrender values of the canceled insurance policies.
Criminal and Civil court judges responded to Purpera’s report with 15 page rebuttal letters that were eerily similar. Both reports called the audit “misleading and unsound.” That may be so, but the judges did cancel their policies and refund a good deal of money. Why would they do that unless they felt it was the right thing to do?
The judges claim that the judicial expense fund is not public money, but “self-generated money” that is derived from fines and fees collected.
Purpera minces no words- “It would appear to be a tremendous conflict of interest for judges to be able to assess fines and fees that they then may use for their own personal benefit,” he wrote in his rebuttal to the judges’ rebuttal.