Inevitably, jurist with vested interest will get case of N.J. judge trying to halt pension change

A Hudson County Superior Court judge is suing to have New Jersey’s new pension law voided.

The judge is challenging the constitutionality of the portion of the law increasing how much judges must contribute toward their pensions. Over the course of seven years, that amount will rise from 3 percent of their salary to 12 percent.


The suit seeks to void the pension cost hikes for judges–claiming that raising pension costs amounts to decreasing the judges’ salaries, which is unconstitutional.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The judge’s case is set to go before–you guessed it–another judge.

John Beckerman is a visiting professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden New Jersey.

“Technically you could say that the court is interested, financially interested, in the litigation that it is called upon to decide,” said John Beckerman, a visiting professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden. “The problem here is that it doesn’t seem possible to find a neutral or unconflicted adjudicator for the lawsuit, and in similar circumstances, courts have adjudicated lawsuits in the past under something called the ‘doctrine of necessity’ because there is no other totally disinterested forum.”

Beckerman said, inevitably, this case will be appealed to higher courts. So even if there were a disinterested judge at the beginning, the case would eventually get to others who–it could be argued–have a financial interest in the outcome.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal