California’s 1,663 trial court judges will soon take home fatter paychecks than the governor’s, thanks largely to salary increases recently given to other state employees.
Superior Court judges will now make $200,042 a year, according to a July 21 memo from the state Department of Human Resources. That’s a 4.4 percent bump from the their previous salaries of $191.612. Gov. Jerry Brown got his own raise last month and now earns $195,803—$4,239 less than the judges he appoints.
State law links judges’ pay increases to those negotiated by state workers’ bargaining groups. This year, the average pay increase for state employees was a little more than 4.2 percent. Judges received that, plus a boost from some 2016 state worker raises and the disposition of a lawsuit that challenged how judges’ past pay was calculated.
It’s not just judges who will see bigger paychecks. Justices on the courts of appeal will now be paid $228,918 annually. Associate justices on the Supreme Court will receive $244,179. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will earn $256,059 a year.
Messages seeking comment from the California Judges Association were referred to the group’s president, Tehama County Superior Court Judge C. Todd Bottke, who was not immediately available.
Judges looking to boost their income got a second dose of good fiscal news this month. A new state law clarifies that judges can charge “reasonable” fees for performing marriage ceremonies on the weekends and legal holidays.
Previous advice from the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions suggested judges should not accept such fees after Jan. 1, 2017. That guidance was in response to a bill that expanded the categories of people who can officiate weddings. That bill also barred those people from accepting compensation for their services.
The Supreme Court’s ethics committee originally said the new law banning marriage fees also applied to judges. But after legislators moved quickly to clarify judges’ authority to seek payment, the committee changed its opinion.