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QUESTIONS SURROUND JUDGE'S REQUEST

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How does former Presiding Judge Verne Hodge's request for $400,000 in accumulated leave compare with payments to other judges who retired under the same generous legislation?
Presiding Judge Maria Cabret has asked for legal advice on whether she can release those figures, according to attorney Glenda Lake, Territorial Court administrator. Cabret has referred a request for that information to the court's attorney, Leon Kendall.
Meanwhile one of the former judges, Eileen Petersen, told St. Thomas Source she could not remember exactly how much she received, but she put the figure at something over $10,000 and well under $100,000. Petersen retired in 1992 after 21 years on the bench (although she said she volunteered unpaid at the court until 1994.)
Her tenure is the longest next to Hodge's. He served for 23 years.
Only judges sitting at the time of the 1976 law, now repealed, were eligible for unrestricted lump-sum payments for unused annual and sick leave at the time of retirement. Besides Petersen and Hodge they were Henry Feuerzeig, Raymond Finch, and Antoine Joseph and Irwin Silverlight, both now deceased.
Judge Henry Smock was not covered by the legislation, as earlier reported.
Only those judges with 20 years or more on the bench were eligible to retire at full salary, Lake said.
Pensions for judges now on the bench are capped at $65,000, she said, "a sort of injustice." Most are eligible for less, since they may serve only one or two six-year terms.
There was no word Tuesday on whether the government will pay Hodge. As St. Thomas Source reported Saturday, Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull has asked Attorney General Iver Stridiron to research the question of sick leave pay. He said he would probably send his findings to her in about a week.

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