From the NY Post:
State judges are using taxpayer money to buy everything from spa trips to self-portraits to electronics, The Post has learned.
On Nov. 1, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman doubled the expense allowances for his judges to $10,000 a year each. But the special compensation -- which now costs $12.6 million annually and is intended to reimburse judges for work-related costs -- isn't always spent judiciously.
Meditation retreats, framed photographs of themselves, and a $233 Apple iPod Touch are among the expense claims reimbursed this year by the New York Office of Court Administration, a Post analysis found.
Brooklyn Housing Court judges Cheryl Gonzales and John Stanley decided to get in touch with their inner Buddha by attending a February getaway at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California. Gonzales and Stanley were reimbursed $890 and $780, respectively, for the cost of travel, accommodations and the program.
According to the meditation center's Web site, some of the courses include "Heart Practices for Couples," "The Neurology of Awakening" and "Relationships as Spiritual Practice."
Gonzales' expense allowance has also extended to her associates. She was reimbursed $1,665 for the cost of an entire table at a May dinner of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, a group she chairs.
Other judges have used their allowance to foot travel bills.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Laura Jacobson was reimbursed $2,878.40 to travel to Cuba in late September with the National Association of Women Judges for what one attendee reportedly called a "fact-finding vacation."
Vanity also seems like a justifiable cost to the OCA.
At least 10 Queens Supreme Court judges used their allowances to cover the $390 cost to get photos taken of themselves. The framed photos will hang in a public hallway of the Queens Supreme Court house in the near future, according to the OCA.