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WDAM Viewpoint- Pay raise for judges

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February 17, 2011

There is a lot of talk about a bill before state lawmakers that would give Mississippi's 150 judges pay raises of up to 38%.  District Attorneys would get raises as well.  The money would come from various fees rather than tax dollars.  There is a lot of opposition to the bill.  In a poll this week on WDAM.com close to 90% of those voting were against the raises.  It is easy to see why with the state's economic woes and current budget crunch.  Granted the timing for giving public officials raises is not optimum.  But let's look at both sides of the issue.  Mississippi's Chief Justice is the lowest paid in the country.  The Chief Court of Appeals judge and associates make just a bit over $100,000 a year. 

While there is certainly the expected public service sacrifice to consider…most attorneys worth their salt make far more than that.  Do we really want judges, who make some of the most critical and important decisions that affect our lives and liberties, to be among the lowest paid lawyers in society? 

While now is not the time to play catch up all at once, we do think it is time to start our justices on an upward pay trend to eventually get them at least in the ball park with surrounding states.  Not only that…but our judges are also some of the lowest paid public officials in the state as well.  Is it right for a Chancery Clerk to make more than a Chancery Judge?  Maybe it is time to consider the entire system.  I'm Jim Cameron and that's today's Viewpoint.  Let us know what you think.