California is on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in back wages and other damages to judges after an appeals court rejected the state's effort to avoid the payments.
A division of California's 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles this week said a lower court had the authority to order the payments.
The ruling stems from a 2014 lawsuit filed by a former state judge who alleged California underpaid judges between 2008 and 2013 as it made cuts during the recession.
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The Sacramento Bee says the state has to pay about $40 million in back wages, penalties and interest to about 3,000 current and former judges.
The lawsuit named then-state Controller John Chiang. An email to the current controller's office was not immediately returned.