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Are L.A. Judges Corrupted? Protesters Urging for Richard Fine's Freedom Think So

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Not only do judges get paid a state salary of $178,789 a year with medical and retirement benefits up to 75% of their salary, in Los Angeles County they get an added bonus to the tune of $47,726, compliments of County Supervisors. It's been going on for years and in 2008 the practice was found illegal by a state appellate court, but only after a local judge rules against the case (the case alleged judges are bribed by the extra money to side with the county in cases against it). It, however, did not take too long for a state bill, snuck into a budget bill last year, to reverse that decision, allowing L.A. and other counties to pay judges extra money and avoid liability.

"It's another illustration of how state budget bills have become vehicles for matters that have nothing to do with the budget but are slipped through without public airing," Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee said last year March. "Indeed, the package was enacted while most of California's 38 million residents were still sound asleep early one Thursday morning."

In the middle of this debate is 70-year-old Attorney Richard Fine, a distinguished attorney who "studied international law in at least three countries, prosecuted antitrust cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and acted as special counsel hired to investigate a Los Angeles mayor in the 1970s, according to the LA Times.

Fine has been in jail for over a year after challenging a local judge's order to reveal his personal financial information. Fine has made issue of the extra pay for years and believes he's being retaliated against by questioning judges' pay. Instead of releasing his personal finances, which would release him from jail, Fine is fighting it and this Friday his case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Yesterday outside the county's Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown, protestors gathered to bring attention to Fine's case and the extra pay. "Clearly, Fine has been a thorn in the judges' side, but just as clearly, he's being punished largely because he's been a thorn," opined Walters in a recent editorial.