Commission seeks raises for judges

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state Judicial Compensation Commission has recommended a multiyear pay raise plan for Louisiana's judges.

The plan would this year increase Supreme Court justices' pay by 5.5 percent, appeals court judges by 3.7 percent and general

trial court judges by 4 percent.

Supreme Court justices would increase to

$159,047; appellate, $149,023 and general trial court, $143,215,

according to commission

documents.

The Advocate reported the raise would cost an estimated $1.7 million.

After that the judges' pay would increase 2.1 percent a year through 2017 when Supreme Court justices would make $172,343;

appellate court judges, $161,275 and trial court $155,279.

The plan approved Monday now advances to the Louisiana Legislature for consideration.

The commission acted after hearing a report from economist Loren C. Scott, who concluded that Louisiana judges' pay was lagging

behind that of their colleagues in the South.

Scott said pay is not the only factor that

could act as a deterrent to good lawyers running for judgeships. A

recent change

in the state's retirement system, which eliminates a defined

benefit pension plan, creates less certainty in the compensation

package, Scott said. "The benefits side is way more empty," he

said.

Judges had a plan that offered guaranteed retirement checks for life. But a Gov. Bobby Jindal-backed plan, which goes into

effect July 1, operates similar to a private sector 401(k)-type and does not have the same assurance.

The commission was created by law to monitor the pay of judges and make legislative recommendations.

The Louisiana Legislature would have to approve the pay raise plan in its regular session, which opens April 8, and if the

increase is approved, Jindal would have to sign that measure into law.