Connecticut Judges Need $45,000 More Each, Chief Justice Says

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers says Connecticut judges are underpaid compared to their peers in other states and she has formally proposed that judges here get $45,000 each in pay raises over the next four years.

Connecticut’s chief justice wants to give $45,000 in raises to state judges, a move she says is needed because the judges have gone five years without a salary increase and because they are underpaid compared to judges in other states.

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers proposed the increases over four years in a report to the state’s Commission on Judicial Compensation. The commission is expected to make a recommendation on her request in January. The legislature could vote on the proposal next year.

Under her recommendation, a superior court judge’s salary would increase from an average of about $147,000 annually to about $192,000, according to a report by television station WTNH.  A national court organization ranks Connecticut 45th in the country for judges' pay, the report says.

Under her plan Connecticut Supreme Court judges would see their pay increase about $49,000 each over four years, from about $163,000 to about $212,000, according to The Day of New London.

The judicial pay raise plan, coming on the heels of more than $260,000 in controversial salary hikes that were given, and later suspended, to top officials in the state’s Department of Higher Education last week, is already drawing fire.

"Judges probably deserve a pay raise. But there are people everywhere, both in the private and public sector, who deserve pay raises but do not earn as much as judges," State Rep. Chris Wright, D-Bristol, told The Day.

fact_checker October 19, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I don't think the reporting in this article is completely accurate. The average salary for a trial judge in the U.S. is $137k. In Connecticut, a trial judge earns $147k, well above the average. Nationally, we do not rank 45th as stated. Nationally, we rank 14th. The highest salary in the nation for a trial judge is $180k (Illinois). If Connecticut doles out a raise of $45k - as is being requested - our judges would be making $192k, well above the highest salary in the nation, propelling us into first place in the rankings. I see no reason to make Connecticut judges the highest paid in the nation - and by such a large margin.
Wyatt October 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM
The raises make sense. I'm actually surprised at how little judges in CT make. An average salary of 147k is well below the private sector - many attorneys make more than than their 1st year out of law school at CT's larger firms. Judges are an important part of the legal system - I don't see any reason they need to get paid so much less than their private sector counterparts. We do want smart and accomplished people to be judges, right? If so, we need to pay a salary at least remotely competitive with the private sector.
Ken October 23, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Wyatt - Please see fact_checker’s post above. It shows that Connecticut’s judges already make well above the national average. If they want a "private sector" salary, then let them get a "private sector" job. Why should my taxes continue to skyrocket just so state employee salaries can keep up with the "private sector"?? Your cavalier attitude about government spending leads me to believe that you are either (a) an attorney looking for a judgeship, (b) a typical Connecticut tax-and-spend Democrat determined to drive this god-forsaken state further into a he11 hole, or (c) all of the above. As I said before, this state is so screwed up, I guess it doesn't really matter anymore…
Wyatt October 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM
@Ken. You raise a few points. 1. You asked why judges salaries should "keep up with the private sector." My response to that is simple - judges are a very important position, more so than nearly any other in state government. People's lives and futures are in the hands of judges. Given the great responsibilities and powers given to judges, I think it is prudent to get good, qualified people to serve. It would be very difficult to continue to get quality candidates to serve as a judge when the could get paid so much more in the private sector. I always hear conservatives talk about running government like a business - and in business, if you want good people, you need to pay them. 2. Hardly a cavalier attitude about government spending, and I am not an attorney. Instead, I simply recognize the important role judges play and the need to have quality people fill those roles. Picture it this way - if your life is in the hands of a judge, do you really want some law school lacky who couldn't get a better paying job deciding your future? I certainly wouldn't. Your cavalier attitude about the justice system leads me to believe that you could care less about the people brought before judges every day - both the innocent and the guilty.
Ken October 25, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Wyatt - I certainly understand your point about getting "good, qualified people to serve" as judges. I've been a hiring manager for several private companies. I get it. What I don't understand is why you assume that the BEST we'll get for $147,000 per year is "some law school lackey" ?? Don't you think one of those excellent judges from outside of Connecticut earning $130,000 (or less) might be interested in moving here for a $17,000 bump? Let me save you the trouble by answering my own question. You'd say, "But Ken, the cost of living in Connecticut is so much higher, we NEED to offer a higher salary to be competitive". Wyatt herein lies the problem. By driving up the salaries of state employees, you drive up taxes. When you drive up taxes, you drive up the cost of living. And to keep up with the higher cost of living, you need to raise state employee salaries. Where does it end? I’ll tell you where it ends… when people say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!” And then they leave the state… That’s what I’m doing. Why? Because, as I've said twice before, and I’ll say here for the third and final time…this state is so screwed up, it really doesn't matter anymore…


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