San Diego County superior court judge Gary Kreep, already in the crosshairs of the local judicial establishment, has filed suit against the state's Judicial Council and the California Public Employees Retirement System, alleging he's gotten a raw pension deal.
Elected in a close 2012 race against establishment favorite Garland Peed, Kreep and a group of fellow elected judges assert they were shafted by a change in the retirement system which they say favored appointed judges.
Besides San Diego's Kreep, the six judges listed on the complaint, filed December 23 in San Francisco superior court, are Tehama County's Matthew McGlynn, Alameda's Tara Flanagan, Imperial's Louie Brooks Anderholt, King's Jennifer Giuliani, and Yuba's Benjamin Wirtschafter.
"Petitioners are seven (sic) Judges of the superior courts who were elected to judicial office in 2012," the filing recounts. "Upon their election to judicial office, Petitioners became members entitled to participate in [the Judges Retirement System II] under the terms then offered."
Instead, the judges claim they were unfairly forced to participate in a new system created by the Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013.
The reform act "increased petitioners' salary withholdings, permitted reductions to petitioners' salaries during their terms of office in violation of the Constitution, and diminished the pension benefits they are entitled to earn," according to the document.
Not only did the reform law become effective "after Petitioners were elected to judicial office," the complaint alleges, the new pension rules were retroactively applied to them but not to appointed incumbents.
The law's terms "have not been applied to judicial officers appointed prior to its effective date, but only to Petitioners and those similarly-situated who were elected to office prior to its effective date."
As a result, the salaries of the complaining judges "were reduced by an additional 6.25%." Besides that, the complaint adds, "in 2014, during their term of office, an additional 1% reduction was implemented...(meaning Petitioners experienced a 7.25% reduction in pay over the amount established at the time of their election to office)….
"Petitioners are now subject to a fluctuating and increasing —as opposed to guaranteed — rate of contribution towards their pension benefits." Additionally, "Petitioners' pension annuity has been diminished by application of a three-year average salary annuity formula."
The filing argues that, "through their election, Petitioners accepted and became vested in the rights that were appurtenant to the office to which they were elected."
"Petitioner Kreep expended substantial effort, time, resources and personal funds toward his election, to his detriment," the document says.
"Subsequent to his election, Petitioner wound down his law practice, closing it prior to and assuming office. Petitioner Kreep spent six days in December 2012 attending orientation as a new judge."
Kreep has rarely avoided controversy, once finding himself banished to traffic court after sustaining a defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches.
Most recently he was sued by Mark Seidenberg, California chairman of the American Independent Party, for failing to pay back an $85,000 loan, according to a December 12 U-T San Diego account.
Kreep, who once challenged the citizenship of president Barack Obama, is former executive director of the conservative United States Justice Foundation.