Original Jurisdiction in case of Alexander F. Barbieri, Court Administrator of Pennsylvania v. Honorable Kendall H. Shoyer, Honorable Joseph T. Murphy, Honorable Frederick G. Weir, Honorable Ethan Allen Doty, Honorable Louis A. Bloom, Honorable John V. Diggins, Honorable William S. Rahauser, Honorable Maurice W. Sporkin, Honorable Robert Van Der Voort, Honorable Warren K. Hess, Honorable Hugh C. Boyle, Honorable G. Harold Watkins, Honorable J. Sydney Hoffman, Honorable Loran L. Lewis, in their official and individual capacities on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, and the distributees, executors and administrators of the Estate of the Honorable Otto P. Robinson, Deceased, and The State Employees' Retirement Board and Robert L. Cusma, in his capacity as Executive Secretary of the State Employees' Retirement Board and R. Budd Dwyer, in his capacity as Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Howland W. Abramson, with him, Alan C. Milstein, for petitioner.
J. Frank McKenna, III, with him, Kevin C. Abbott, Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, for respondents.
Vincent X. Yakowicz, with him, R. Budd Dwyer, for respondent, Treasurer of Pennsylvania.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
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The Court Administrator of Pennsylvania,*fn1 has filed a petition in our original jurisdiction*fn2 pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 7531-7541, naming certain senior judges as respondents.*fn3
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The Court Administrator seeks to have this Court construe the rights and duties of the parties with respect to monies presently being held by the State Employes' Retirement Board. Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment. We grant respondents' motion for summary judgment. We deny the Court Administrator's motion for summary judgment.
The senior judges in this action are all retired judges of courts of common pleas. Each of them has been periodically appointed as a senior judge by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania pursuant to Section 4121(b) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 4121(b). Their compensation for serving as senior judges was set at $175.00 per diem during 1979, 1980 and 1981, the years relevant to this case. During this time, respondents were also receiving pension benefits under their individually-exercised retirement plans. Due to a statutorily-imposed limitation on compensation, Section 3154(c) of the Judiciary Act of 1976, as amended, 42 Pa. C.S. § 3154(c),*fn4 senior judges are restricted in what they may earn in per diem payments. Their total per diems for a year, when added to retirement income, may not exceed that which an active judge is presently earning on the court from which the senior judge retired.
As a result of the Supreme Court's holding in McKenna v. State Employes' Retirement Board, 495 Pa. 324, 433 A.2d 871 (1981), respondents' retirement
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 559]
benefits have been retroactively increased.*fn5 These increased benefits which respondents are to receive as a result of McKenna, if retroactively allocated to the years 1979, 1980 and 1981, would cause the respondents to be deemed to have received compensation for those years in excess of the limitations established for senior ...