Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Arkansas Online: 'Circuit judge quits post to receive retirement pay'

James Valley sent you this:

Circuit judge quits post to receive retirement pay
By Matthew S.L. Cate

LITTLE ROCK — An east Arkansas circuit judge said Tuesday that he will resign his appointment to the bench because he won't receive his full retirement pay while in that job.
Judge Harvey Yates of Lexa said that he has resigned his seat in the 1st Judicial Circuit effective Feb. 1. He said he told the office of Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday.
Now, Beebe is again looking to find someone to serve the remainder of the term of suspended jurist L.T. Simes of Helena-West Helena.
"It was a shock," Beebe said. "I mean, he wanted that."
Yates, 62, initially sought the appointment. He later learned that it would force him to forgo $105,000 in retirement pay through Dec. 31, when Simes' term expires. In exchange, Yates would have earned about $136,000 this year, the full pay for a circuit judge.
Yates has said half of his retirement pay goes to his ex-wife. And combined with having to give up his mediation and arbitration business and the loss of Social Security income, the required sacrifices proved too much.
"I wasn't out here just trying to rip the state off," Yates said in an interview. "I need to work. ... If I'm going to work, I'll need something to show for it."
State Judicial Retirement System trustees told Yates on Jan. 14 that state law and similar situations in the past required them to suspend all of his benefits during his return to the bench. The trustees rejected proposals by Yates that called either for him to earn a full salary and half his retirement - with that going to his ex-wife - or to earn half a salary with full retirement.
"Unfortunately, this was not accomplished," he said in a prepared statement. "I have no other recourse but to resign from the position."
The statement noted that his recommended deals would have either saved the retirement system $52,500 or the state $68,000. Now, Yates points out, he'll begin receiving his full retirement benefits after Feb. 1 while the state will simultaneously pay someone else a full salary to hold the judgeship.
Yates' departure will mark the seat's second opening since the state Supreme Court on Nov. 5 suspended Simes without pay. A judicial-discipline panel had found that Simes had worked simultaneously as a judge and as an attorney.
Ben Story, the circuit's administrative judge, said the judges there hope Beebe will appoint another judge "very soon." The 1st Judicial Circuit covers Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff counties.
Beebe, who suggested that Yates should have known he couldn't draw full salary and retirement benefits while working, said he's working on it.
"Well, yeah. You suspend your retirement if you're going to draw salary, and you don't draw both," Beebe said. "Apparently, he's decided that he didn't know that or he didn't realize that and he didn't want to do away with his retirement. So he's not going to be judge. So we're going to have a replacement, hopefully this week."
Told that the governor appeared disappointed, Yates said: "I've heard that he may be a little bit."
Yates added: "Thinking back on it, maybe this is something we ought to have [ironed] out ahead of time. But sometimes it's just hard to do these kind of things." Information for this article was contributed by Seth Blomeley of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

James Valley attached this additional message:

Judge Harvey Yates is resigning from the bench effective February 2, 2010.
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