Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pretty Scary Letter from New York Supreme Court Justice

"I have wasted 25 years of my life by serving on the bench."

The NYT had an article recently on: “Big Paycheck or Service? Students Are Put to Test” (news article, June 23). There are some letters in response today. One of them is particularly discouraging.

From the NYT

To the Editor:

After a career in public service, I regretfully say, I would not do it again.

Philosophy and point of view led me to doing good instead of doing well, so I never expected to become rich. But now that I’m in my 10th year of a frozen judicial salary — less than summer students are being paid at law firms — I have concluded that whatever I may have accomplished for the public, I have wasted 25 years of my life by serving on the bench.

Emily Jane Goodman
New York, June 23, 2008

The writer is a New York Supreme Court justice.

[See comment where a reader has helpfully pointed out that:

"The New York Supreme Court is a trial court. The highest appellate court in New York is called the Court of Appeals."]

We have a pretty socially conscious judge here in Minnesota, Alan Page. I wonder what he would think of this? From Wikipedia:

Far surpassing both his impressive achievements on the playing field and in the courtroom are the philanthropic contributions Justice Page has made to those in need.

In 1988, Page and his wife Diane founded the Page Education Foundation. That Foundation provides much-needed financial and mentoring assistance to minority college students, in exchange for those students’ commitment to further volunteer service in the community.

As of today, the Page Foundation has awarded grants to 3,320 students, who in turn have given over 220,000 hours of their own time to young children.

Upon his retirement from the bench, Justice Page hopes to become a public school teacher, so that he might make an even more personal impact on the children the Foundation has served for the past 20 years.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Bonzo,

This is your old friend, Slugger. Two things:

1. The New York Supreme Court is a trial court. The highest appellate court in New York is called the Court of Appeals.

2. At some level, I can sympathize with Judge Goodman. It isn't a question of salary for me, but I've spent fifteen years in higher education and have, personally speaking, nothing to show for it. I wish I had followed some other career path.

Best wishes,

Mr. B. said...

Thanks for your comments, Slugger.

In the end decisions about the wisdom of a career path are difficult, especially in hindsight. I almost went to law school when the job market for chemists was particularly bad in the late seventies. Sometimes I wonder how that would have worked out...

One of my good friends, a world class scientist, has expressed the wish that he had not gone into academia and I had an uncle who was a doctor who expressed regret at his career choice. This man was an outstanding psychiatrist whose specialty was dealing with adolescents. I am sure that his patients were grateful for his career choice.

But you are right, I should not have been so surprised at the judge's comments.

Best regards,