Here is a link to an article in today’s Daily Record about the state’s Judicial Compensation Commission’s recommendation that Maryland’s judges should be given a raise. According to the article, the judiciary last received a raise in 2008. In 2009, the Commission recommended a $39,858 raise to be phased in over four years, but the plan was never put into law by the legislature.
All of Maryland’s judges are paid six-figure salaries. It’s an easy reaction to dismiss the Commission’s recommendation as an attempt by an already well-paid judiciary to get even more from the state’s coffers. This is particularly true when a recommendation like this is made in a time of public and private belt-tightening due to a down economy. Certainly, many will make that argument.
Good benefits, paid holidays, and strong retirement plans have historically been some of the draws of public employment as opposed to working in the private sector. The trade-off is generally making a lesser salary than would be earned in a comparable position in the private sector. As the article points out, most judges that came to the bench from a private legal practice took a pay cut to do so. But on the other hand, many judges come to the bench from other government positions or from private practice situations that may have been less lucrative than some others. Presumably, there are judges for whom taking the bench entails a pay raise.