The state Judicial Compensation Commission on Monday hired economist Loren Scott to look at Louisiana judges pay compared to their colleagues in other states.
Louisiana judges are already in line for annual 2.1 percent pay increases each July 1 through 2017 – part of a five-year plan adopted by the Legislature in 2013.
Last year, the commission did not recommend additional pay increases opting to wait until the current compensation plan is approaching an end,
This year, the commission is gathering information as part of its legal obligation to report to the Legislature on whether judicial pay increases are needed.
“The state’s not necessarily flush with money although I don’t think it was in 2013 either,” commission chairman state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, said. “It’s our obligation to take a look at it and make a recommendation, then it’s up to the Legislature whether to approve.”
Martiny said the commission recommendation could once again be to let the status quo continue.
The commission is required to meet annually to look at the pay of judges on the Supreme Court, appeals court, district court as well as parish and city courts. It looks at pay nationally and regionally and the makes recommendations to the Legislature on how local pay should be adjusted to keep pace.
Scott will be paid $20,000 to update judicial compensation data from a prior report he did for the commission. The commission agreed for Scott to also look at salaries at private sector law firms for lawyers with experience.
“I think it’s important we pay an appropriate salary to attract quality candidates to the judiciary,” commission member state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said.
Different judges’ associations have agreed to pick up the expense of the report which is expected to be completed around Christmas.
The commission will meet again Jan. 4 to decide what route it will take.
Judges got varying pay increases in 2013 with Louisiana Supreme Court justices getting 5.5 percent; appeals court judges, 3.7 percent; and district court, parish and city court judges 4 percent. Then, the annual 2.1 percent kicked in the following year.
When the pay raise plan kicked in Supreme Court justices were making about $151,800 a year, appellate judges about $144,300; district judges about $137,700; and city and parish judges about $66,500.