Maryland Judges Defend Big Pay Hike

February 20, 2018

From left, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera; Patrick Woodward, chief judge, Court of Special Appeals; Judge Kathleen Cox; and Judge Joseph Getty testify Tuesday.

 

Maryland’s top judges told the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday that increasing the pay of all 313 Maryland judges in the state was necessary to retain the quality and diversity of Maryland’s judiciary.

The Judicial Compensation Commission has recommended that all the judges get a $35,000 pay hike phased in over the next four years. This would bring the salaries of 173 circuit court judges up to $189,433 and the pay for 117 district court judges, the lowest paid of the jurists, up to $176,333.

“I know it sounds outlandish what we propose,” said Elizabeth Buck, who chairs the independent commission. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“We believe we’re falling further and further behind” in offering competitive salaries to attract good lawyers to the bench, Buck said. (See related story, “$35,000 pay raise proposed for all 313 Maryland judges.”)

Mary Ellen Barbera, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court, told the legislators, “We know, as you do, that public service requires sacrifice,” but not so much sacrifice as to “deter well-qualified applicants.”

The salary for Barbera, as head of the Maryland judiciary, would rise from $195,433 to $230,433 in 2021 under the proposal.

Despite its high cost of living, Maryland’s judicial salaries rank below surrounding states and “the other states are moving ahead,” said Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Getty, a former state senator and legislative aide to Gov. Larry Hogan.

Kathleen Cox, administrative judge for Baltimore County representing the circuit court judges, said some of the circuits are having difficulty recruiting enough qualified candidates for appointment to the bench.

Compensation and the contested elections for circuit judges “have some chilling effect” on qualified candidates, Cox said.

“The trend is toward younger lawyers and lawyers who come from the public sector,” said Barbera. “We need the diversity” of a wider range of talent to handle the complexity of legal issues.

No one testified against the salary hikes, and there were few questions from the committee members. The legislators have until March 15 to reject or reduce the pay hike, or they will go into effect automatically.

20 Responses to Maryland Judges Defend Big Pay Hike

  1. JD on February 20, 2018 at 7:27 am

    In 4 years, that would be a almost 11 million not counting what was spent the 3 years to get there. That would help build a VERY nice jail and maybe the judges would EARN their pay by putting crooks in jail instead of releasing them. Judge should be a judge to help their area be safe and protected not for the money. They need to quit then and go back to being a lawyer

  2. Anonymous on February 20, 2018 at 7:32 am

    “Maryland’s top judges told the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday that increasing the pay of all 313 Maryland judges in the state was necessary to retain the quality and diversity of Maryland’s judiciary.”
    This made me laugh. Quality, lol. Okay, I agree, lets increase the pay of the position then get rid of all the judges and get some true quality judges that will actually fight for the victims and punish the bad people.

    • anonymous on February 21, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      So they attempt to hold the Legislature Hostage, which is a prime example of extortion, by greedy condescending ‘lwyers’.

    • Nikko on February 22, 2018 at 11:24 am

      What a joke. Maryland does not know what quality judges are. In fact most of the country does not know. All they are concerned about is their own agenda and making the people they answer to whom ever it may be, happy. The citizens vote for something and one judge comes along plays God and overrides it, because some moron who gave him money for something wants it that way.

  3. poor ol' me on February 20, 2018 at 7:45 am

    never seen anybody refuse a hike in anything except taxes, but with this horse s__t raise that will be the next raise.
    All these pensions being paid over the next years it will be a terrible, state and county expense.
    crazy..

  4. Anonymous on February 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

    “I know it sounds outlandish what we propose,” said Elizabeth Buck, who chairs the independent commission. “I know it sounds crazy.”

    She nailed it. What’s being proposed is absolutely outlandish.

  5. Anonymous on February 20, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    What about the teacher paid that are working 10 days and taking care of yours kids.

    • Anonymous on February 20, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Attend one of their classes! Please.

  6. Adam 12 on February 20, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    They should give that $35,000 a year to the victims they screw over every year.

  7. WTF????????? on February 21, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    These arrogant tools have got a lot of nerve. They shouldn’t see another dime until they start actually doing their job!!!

  8. Judy on February 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Most two income families don’t come close to what they make by themselves. Why should they get the raise? Lawyers, Senators, and Congressmen who do nothing for the people they are supposed to be representing are always voting themselves an automatic raise. How can they vote on a raise for themselves. Of course, they are going to get it and we are all going to have to pay for it, but are we going to get a raise (State Government and Pensions). Teachers, jail workers, and others NO WAY!!!

  9. Anonymous on February 21, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Did these judges, in their testimony, say anything about mission statements for incarceration? No, there shouldn’t be the same mission statement for 1 week in jail as there is for one year. Good question: what would the mission statement be for . . . life? Good question: what is to be accomplished by incarceration? No, the States Attorney doesn’t have to have . . . and shouldn’t have the same mission statement for incarceration as a judge has, that actually does the sentencing. You would think the SA and judge weren’t trying to accomplish 2 different things by incarceration, but who knows.

  10. Keep It Real on February 21, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Community Service is self-rewarding and fulfilling enough, a necessary duty as a “Good Citizen.” The Great & Honorable John Marshall, lived such a civics lesson. Many practicing law members may be need a reminded of why the term “Honorable” is used in the first place. Being virtuous is it’s own payment; as such they get to wear a Black Robe and a life-long title. No further raises are necessary: until laws are change to increase fines and refinements are made in punishments, that at least match any such proposed pay increase.

  11. Sam Watterson on February 22, 2018 at 7:03 am

    It’s actually astonishing how lucrative the judicial system is when you think about all of the salaries involved.

  12. dopehater on February 22, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I want a 35,000. raise! Where is the line? I waited in line all night to get a 10$ deal on boots at christmas so I could afford to give gifts to my loved ones. So really, I don’t mind waiting in line for the raise. Can somebody drop a pin for me?

  13. Political Assylum on February 22, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Not only no, BUT HELL NO!

  14. Raise Fairy on February 22, 2018 at 9:19 am

    A RAISE????

    Not only no,

    BUT HELL NO!

  15. Anonymous on February 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    wa wa wa wa wa wa!

  16. Rob Stark on February 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    If you want a $20,000.00 raise, you ask for $35,000.00. Then you Fein outrage at the $35,000.00 increase and then settle for $20,000.00. Then you show how fiscally responsible you are by holding the increase to $20,000.00. What a f’n joke!

  17. Karen Smith on February 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    How about giving Marylanders a tax break with all that dough? Remember the one Hogan promised us 4 years ago!