Skip to content
Quick Start for:

Judicial Pay
December 2004

Summary

The retention of state appellate judges with decades of legal experience represents a growing challenge for Texas' legal system. One indication of the dimensions of the problem is the fact that the current average tenure of judges on the state's highest courts -- the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and 14 regional, intermediate courts of appeal -- is less than one full elected term.

One often-cited reason for this pattern is low judicial pay. Almost all state appellate judges earn less than federal judges and, for that matter, many newly minted lawyers in the private sector. Appellate judges cannot receive cost-of-living adjustments or other state supplementary pay without legislative appropriation, and have not had a raise since 1999. By contrast, district judges can receive pay supplements from the counties they serve. Several earn up to $13,000 more annually than members of the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals.

To maintain a qualified and experienced judiciary, the Legislature should consider increasing the salaries paid to appellate judges, removing the statutory cap on the supplements counties can pay to district and some appellate judges, and asking the State Bar of Texas or the Office of Court Administration to gather reliable data on the extent and reasons for turnover in the Texas judiciary so that legislators could better evaluate and address the underlying causes of low tenure on the bench.

Serving as a justice on a state appellate court should be the pinnacle of a distinguished legal career, not a financial penalty. Texas should ensure that its judiciary is qualified, experienced, stable and justly compensated.

[signed]
Carole Keeton Strayhorn,
Texas Comptroller


Background

All Texas state judges are elected officials. The Legislature sets their maximum salaries and pays them from state funds. State law provides for a hierarchical pay system, paying judges in the state's highest courts more than judges in intermediate appellate courts and trial court (district) judges. The state also pays the salaries of certain prosecutors and county attorneys.

State law also allows judges in intermediate appellate and trial courts to receive a salary supplement from each county they serve, up to a statutory maximum salary from state and county sources. County supplements are optional and discretionary for each county. The Legislature has granted some counties a statutory exemption from the salary cap, allowing them to raise some district judges' salaries above those paid to members of the state's highest courts.


Texas Judicial System

Texas' court system, like those of all other states, is independent of the federal judiciary. This independence has resulted in 50 different court systems across the nation, with varied structures and responsibilities.

State court systems may be broadly categorized as unified systems, which consist of trial courts and courts of last resort; and multiple court systems, which have trial and appellate (appeals) courts as well as courts of last resort.[1] Texas has a multiple court system. Only two states, Texas and Oklahoma, have two courts (criminal and civil) of last resort.[2] In Texas, the state's Supreme Court serves as the court of last resort in civil matters, while the Court of Criminal Appeals plays the same role in criminal proceedings.

The Texas judicial system includes appellate courts, state trial courts, county courts, justice of the peace courts and municipal courts.[3] The state pays all or part of the salaries of judges on the appellate and trial courts, in addition to the salaries of some local prosecutors.

The National Center for Court Statistics collects a variety of data on state court systems, such as the number of judges per 100,000 residents. For appellate judges, Texas is tied for third-lowest (0.4 per 100,000 residents) among the ten most populous states (Exhibit 1). Texas also has the lowest ratio of general jurisdiction (trial court) judges (1.9 per 100,000 residents) (Exhibit 2).

EXHIBIT 1
Number of Appellate Judges per 100,000 Residents in the Ten Most Populous States, 2002
State Appellate Judges per 100,000 Residents
Ohio 0.7
Illinois 0.5
New Jersey 0.5
New York 0.4
Florida 0.4
Texas 0.4
California 0.3
Pennsylvania 0.3
Michigan 0.3
Georgia 0.2
AVERAGE 0.4
Note: Court systems vary by state, so caseloads also reflect varying court structures.
Source: National Center for State Courts.


EXHIBIT 2
Number of General Jurisdiction (Trial Court) Judges per 100,000 Residents in the Ten Most Populous States, 2002
State General Jurisdiction Judges per 100,000 Residents
Illinois 6.8
New Jersey 4.6
California 4.3
Ohio 3.3
Pennsylvania 3.3
Florida 3.0
New York 2.7
Georgia 2.2
Michigan 2.1
Texas 1.9
AVERAGE 3.4
Note: Court systems vary by state, so caseloads also reflect varying court structures.
Source: National Center for State Courts.

Texas' relatively small judiciary, compared to its population, requires its judges to handle relatively high judicial caseloads; Appendix I contains more information on this topic.

Texas has the nation's largest state appellate court system, with 16 courts and 98 judges.[4] The appellate courts include the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and 14 intermediate courts of appeals that serve separate jurisdictions around the state (Exhibit 3).

Justices on the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals are elected to staggered, six-year terms in statewide, partisan elections. Texas voters also select judges of the 14 intermediate courts of appeals, also through partisan elections and also to six-year terms. Vacancies between elections are filled by gubernatorial appointment with the advice and consent of the Texas Senate.


Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Texas, made up of a chief justice and eight justices, has appellate jurisdiction over all civil court cases. In addition, the court develops rules of administration and civil procedure for Texas courts.

In 2003, the Supreme Court received 968 petitions for review of lower court decisions and disposed of 973; it added 115 regular causes (other petitions and direct appeals) and disposed of 101. This was representative of the court's typical caseload, which has remained fairly steady since 1998.[5]

A 2002-2003 State Bar of Texas profile of the nine Supreme Court justices found that the median (the point below which 50 percent of the total falls) length of time over which the justices had been licensed to practice law was 24 years. As of the end of 2003, the average tenure on the Supreme Court was five years and seven months.[6]

As of September 2004, the court had two vacancies due to the resignation of its chief justice, a 17-year veteran of the court, and the confirmation of another justice, a two-year veteran of the court, to the federal bench.[7]


Court of Criminal Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state's highest court for criminal cases. Like the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals develops rules of evidence and appellate procedures. It comprises a presiding judge and eight judges, all of whom are elected statewide to staggered six-year terms. The judges receive the same salaries as their counterparts on the Supreme Court.

The court's caseload is divided between "mandatory" matters -- all death penalty cases; writs of post-conviction habeas corpus (defendants' requests to be released from imprisonment) in felony cases; and direct appeals from trial courts -- as well as matters that the court, under its own discretion, selects for review. Mandatory habeas corpus petitions have increased dramatically since 1994, from 3,396 in that year to 6,660 in 2003. The number of petitions for discretionary review filed with the court rose between fiscal 1994 and 2003. The number of opinions written by the court has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years.[8]

A 2002-2003 State Bar of Texas statistical profile of the Court of Criminal Appeals judges found that the judges had been licensed to practice law for a median of 26 years.[9] As of the end of 2003, their average tenure on the court was four years, eight months.[10] As of September 2004, the court had no vacancies.


Courts of Appeals

Texas' 14 courts of appeals have appellate jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases originating in the trial courts within each court's district, except for criminal death penalty cases, which are referred directly to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to determine the number, area and designated seats of the courts of appeal.[11] Court districts may overlap. Texas currently has 14 courts and 80 justices in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Texarkana, Amarillo, El Paso, Beaumont, Waco, Eastland, Tyler, and Corpus Christi, and two courts in Houston, both covering the same 14-county area.

Every appeals court has one chief justice and at least two associate justices. Some courts have more justices, depending on the district's workload. For instance, the largest court, in Dallas, has 13 justices. Each case in a court of appeals is heard by at least three justices, or even more if a particular court has more than three justices and agrees to sit en banc (as a whole).

All justices in these appellate courts must be citizens of both the United States and Texas, aged 35 or older, and have at least 10 years' experience as a practicing lawyer or 10 years of combined experience as a practicing lawyer and a judge of a court of record.[12]

In 2003, Texas appellate courts disposed of 12,420 cases, slightly below the five-year (fiscal 1999 to fiscal 2003) average of 12,905. In the mid-1990s, the number of cases rose faster than courts were able to dispose of them. The problem was particularly acute in the Houston and Dallas appellate courts. From fiscal 1999 through 2001, the state funded and the courts implemented a Metropolitan Court Backlog Reduction Program that provided extra staff attorneys and visiting judges to those courts. As a result, these appellate courts significantly reduced their numbers of pending cases awaiting trial.[13]

A 2002-2003 State Bar of Texas statistical profile of the state's 80 Courts of Appeals justices found that they had been licensed to practice law for a median of 24 years.[14] As of the end of 2003, the average tenure on the courts of appeals was five years, 11 months.[15]


District Courts

The Texas Constitution establishes district courts as state trial courts, giving the Legislature the authority to create such courts as it sees fit.[16] Texas has 424 separate trial courts, each identified by a unique number and having its own geographical jurisdiction.[17] In several areas, the geographical jurisdiction of two or more district courts overlaps. District court judges are elected to four-year terms in partisan, districtwide elections. The governor fills vacancies between elections with the advice and consent of the Senate.

District court judges must meet different qualifications than appellate judges, in that they must be aged 25 or older, must reside in their district for two years prior to their election, must be licensed to practice law in Texas and must have at least four years' experience as a practicing lawyer or as a lawyer and judge.[18]

District courts have original jurisdiction over civil cases involving more than $200, land title disputes, divorces, contested elections, contested probate matters and some criminal cases including all felonies and all cases involving minors. In 2003, district courts disposed of 791,294 cases.[19]

The 2002-2003 State Bar of Texas statistical profile of the then-418 district judges found that the judges were licensed to practice law for a median of 24 years.[20] As of the end of 2003, their average tenure was eight years, 10 months.[21]


Judicial Pay in Texas

Texas state law establishes a hierarchical pay system for its judges, tying all salaries to that of a justice of the Supreme Court. Texas Government Code Section 659.012 establishes a formula for determining basic state-paid salaries, often called "95/90" -- appeals court judges receive 95 percent of a Supreme Court justice's salary, while district court judges receive 90 percent. The Legislature establishes the state-paid portion of judges' salaries in its biennial General Appropriations Act according to this formula (Exhibit 4).

EXHIBIT 4
Statutory "95/90" Salary Formula
Court Chief Justice/Judge Justice/Judge
Supreme Court $102,463 minimum; actual salary set by General Appropriations Act; no county supplements $102,463 minimum; actual salary set by General Appropriations Act; no county supplements
Court of Criminal Appeals Same as Supreme Court Same as Supreme Court
Court of Appeals $2,500 more than a justice on courts of appeals; total salary with county supplements may not exceed $500 less than the salary paid to a Supreme Court justice 5 percent less than (or 95 percent of) Supreme Court justice; total salary with county supplements may not exceed $1,000 less than the salary paid to a Supreme Court justice
District Court N/A 10 percent less than (or 90 percent of) the salary paid to a Supreme Court justice; total salary with county supplements may not exceed $2,000 less than the salary paid to a Supreme Court justice*
Counties with more than five district courts N/A District judge serves as local administrative district judge, receives $5,000 in addition to the state-paid salary
* Other statutes allow certain counties to pay supplements to district judges that can cause their total salaries to exceed that of a Supreme Court justice.
Source: Texas Government Code, Chapter 659, Subchapter B.

As noted above, state district and courts of appeals judges may receive supplementary pay from counties within their jurisdiction.

According to Government Code Section 46.003, certain district attorneys, criminal district attorneys and county attorneys performing the duties of a district attorney are entitled to receive state compensation equal to that of a district court judge.[22] In addition, Government Code Section 41.013 sets compensation of certain district attorneys and criminal district attorneys at a level equal to 80 percent of a district judge's annual compensation.[23] Some of these attorneys also receive a county supplement.


Current Salary Levels

The General Appropriations Act for fiscal 2004-05 sets the salary of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals at $115,000 annually, while the eight remaining judges in each court earn $113,000. These judges receive no other state or county compensation.

The salary cap from state and county sources for the chief justices of the courts of appeals is $112,500. The state-paid portion of this salary is $107,850. Associate justices may receive up to $112,000 from state and county sources, of which the state pays $107,350.[24]

A district court judge is entitled to a total salary from state and county sources that is $2,000 less than the salary of a Supreme Court justice, or $111,000. The state-paid portion for fiscal 2004 and 2005 is 10 percent less than that of a Supreme Court justice, or $101,700 (Exhibit 5).

EXHIBIT 5
Annual Judicial Compensation, 2004-05 Biennium
  2004-2005 Salary Set by Legislature and Paid by State Statutory Cap from State and County Sources* County Supplements per Judge in Fiscal 2004** Estimated Annual Cost To State***
Supreme Court (1 Court - 9 Justices)
Chief Justice (1)$115,000$115,000None$115,000
Justice (8) $113,000 $113,000None$904,000
Court of Criminal Appeals (1 Court - 9 Judges)
Presiding Judge (1)$115,000$115,000None$115,000
Judge (8)$113,000 $113,000 None$904,000
Courts of Appeals (14 Courts - 80 Justices)
Chief Justice (14)$107,850$112,500 $2,893 to $4,650 $1,509,900
Justice (66) $107,350$112,000 $2,893 to $4,650$7,085,100
State District Courts (424 Courts - 424 Judges)
Judge (424) $101,700 $111,000 $480 to $10,908 $43,120,800
TOTAL ANNUAL SALARY EXPENSE $53,753,800
*Maximum amount and percentage differential established by Government Code Section 659.012.
**Effective in all counties except Harris, Tarrant, Travis, Collin, Williamson, Ellis and Hill for fiscal 2004 and 2005. Eight district courts with jurisdictions covering 18 counties received no county supplements in fiscal 2004.
***The total presumes that all judges are paid the state maximum, although the Legislature has authorized the Comptroller of Public Accounts to reduce the state-paid portion to meet statutory maximums. The total does not include state-paid benefits of retirement, health insurance and FICA taxes, which would add an estimated 39.29 percent to the base salary.
Sources: Annual Report of the Texas Judicial System, Office of Court Administration; General Appropriations Act, 78th Legislature, Regular Session; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts; and Office of Court Administration.


County Supplements

Chapter 31 of the Texas Government Code authorizes the counties in each court of appeals district to pay each justice of the courts of appeals an amount not to exceed $15,000 per year for judicial and administrative services rendered. This compensation is in addition to the state-paid salary.[25]

For fiscal 2003, the supplements counties paid to court of appeals justices ranged from $3,551 to $4,650. The fiscal 2003 supplements paid by all counties totaled $362,000.[26]

Various sections of Texas Government Code Chapter 32 allow counties to supplement the state salaries of some district court judges. When a court serves multiple counties, the counties negotiate the amount of the supplement and each county's share. When multiple courts serve a single county, each court receives the supplement.

In fiscal 2004, supplements paid by counties in addition to the basic state salary ranged from $27,050 for each judge in Harris County to $480, the minimum supplement, paid to a judge in Deaf Smith and Oldham counties. Twelve courts serving 21 counties received no supplement.[27]

The 2003 Legislature authorized seven counties -- Harris, Tarrant, Travis, Collin, Williamson, Ellis and Hill -- to exceed the combined source salary cap for judges' supplements ($111,000).[28] These supplements are outlined in Exhibit 6. As this exhibit illustrates, not all of the counties authorized to exceed the cap have done so, nor have the supplements been uniformly distributed within counties.

EXHIBIT 6
Fiscal 2004 County Salary Supplements for District Judges
County Number of Judges Receiving SupplementState Salary Annual Supplement Total Salary
Harris 59 $101,700 $27,050 $128,750
Travis 2 $101,700 $21,518 $123,218
Collin 3 $101,700 $21,318 $123,018
Collin 4 $101,700 $21,300 $123,000
Travis 1 $101,700 $20,918 $122,618
Travis 1 $101,700 $20,300 $122,000
Travis 1 $101,700 $19,889 $121,589
Travis 10 $101,700 $19,300 $121,000
Tarrant 8 $101,700 $12,630 $114,330
Tarrant 17 $101,700 $11,603 $113,303
Williamson 4 $101,700 $9,300 $111,000
Ellis 1 $101,700 $9,211 $110,911
Ellis 1 $101,700 $9,210 $110,910
Hill 1 $101,700 $1,200 $102,900
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Judiciary Section.

As a result of the legislatively authorized supplements, 81 Texas district court judges now receive salaries higher than that of the chief justice of the state's Supreme Court ($115,000), and 112 district court judges are paid more than a chief justice of one of the state's courts of appeals ($107,850).


Judicial Salary Enforcement

Section 2 of the 2003 General Appropriations Act authorizes the Texas Comptroller's Judiciary Section to enforce the judicial salary requirements set out by Section 659.012 of the Government Code. The Comptroller's office must reduce the state portion of a district judge's salary if the sum of the judge's state salary plus county supplement exceeds the $111,000 annual salary cap provided by law, as long as the county or counties providing the supplement are subject to the cap.[29] Twelve district judges had the state-paid portion of their salaries reduced in fiscal 2004 to meet this cap, according to Comptroller salary records.[30]

The regular session of the 2003 Legislature authorized Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties to supplement their district judges' salaries so that the judges' total salaries exceeded the annual salary cap.[31] Officials from these counties requested an Attorney General's opinion to determine if the Comptroller's office is required by law to reduce the state salaries paid to district judges in these counties if their supplements would place the judges' total salaries beyond the salary cap.[32]

In a September 10, 2003 opinion, the Office of the Attorney General ruled that "the comptroller may not reduce the judges' salaries in accordance with Government Code, Section 659.012(e)," noting that "to the extent that the General Appropriations Act requires the comptroller to reduce the state salaries in this situation, it unconstitutionally seeks to amend general law."[33] The Harris, Tarrant and Travis County commissioners courts then approved fiscal 2004 salary increases for their district judges that placed the judges' total salaries above the cap.

In a subsequent special session, the Legislature authorized Collin, Ellis, Hill and Williamson counties to follow suit.[34]


District and County Attorneys

The judicial salaries set by the Legislature also affect district and county attorney salaries. As noted above, certain district attorneys, criminal district attorneys and county attorneys performing the duties of a district attorney (i.e., a prosecutor) are entitled to receive state compensation equal to that of a district court judge.[35] In addition, Government Code Section 41.013 sets the compensation of certain district attorneys and criminal district attorneys at 80 percent of a district judge's annual compensation (Exhibit 7) and Section 46.0031 sets the supplement for other county prosecutors, also indexed to a district judge's salary.[36]

EXHIBIT 7
Fiscal 2004 Prosecutor Salaries
Prosecutors Amount Set by Legislature Maximum Amount Set by Statute* Amount Paid by the State* County Supplement** Estimated Current Annual Salary Cost To State
Under Professional Prosecutors' Law
(Government Code 46.002 and 46.003): 138 District Attorneys, Criminal District Attorneys and County Attorneys
$101,700 $101,700

(100 percent of district judge salary)
$101,700 Supplements paid to district attorneys range from $35,975 to $1,200; to criminal district attorneys, from $68,000 to $1,200; and to county attorneys, from $31,282 to $1,800. $14,034,600
Not Under Prosecutors' Law
(Government Code 431.013): 15 District Attorneys, Criminal District Attorneys and County Attorneys
$81,360 $81,360

80 percent of district judge salary)
$81,360 $0 $1,220,400
*Maximum amount and percentage differential established by Government Code Section 659.012.
**Texas counties supplemented the salaries of 24 criminal district attorneys, 45 district attorneys and 13 county attorneys.
Sources: Annual Report of the Texas Judicial System, Office of Court Administration; General Appropriations Act, 78th Legislature, Regular Session; and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


Judicial Salary Comparisons

Since 1990, the Legislature has increased the salaries for appellate and trial court judges four times, most recently in 1999, effective for fiscal 1998 (Exhibit 8).[37]

EXHIBIT 8
Appropriated Judicial Salaries*
Fiscal 1990 through 2005
  1990-
1991
1992-
1993
1994-
1995
1996-
1997
1998-
1999
2000-
2001
2002-
2003
2004-
2005
Texas Supreme Court
Chief Justice (1)$82,500 $91,875 $97,470 $97,470 $105,247 $115,000 $115,000 $115,000
Associate Justice (8) $82,000 $89,250 $94,686 $94,686 $102,463 $113,000 $113,000 $113,000
Court of Criminal Appeals
Presiding Judge (1)$82,500$91,875$97,470 $97,470 $105,247 $115,000 $115,000 $115,000
Associate Judge (8) $82,000 $89,250 $94,686 $94,686 $102,463 $113,000 $113,000 $113,000
Courts of Appeal (14)
Chief Justice (14)$74,250 $85,288 $90,482 $90,482 $97,870 $107,850 $107,850 $107,850
Associate Justice (66) $73,800 $84,788 $89,952 $89,952 $97,340 $107,350 $107,350 $107,350
District Courts
District Judges $73,800 $80,325$85,217 $85,217$92,217$101,700 $101,700$101,700
Number of District Judges375 386386387 396 396418 418
*These salaries were appropriated as line items in the courts' appropriations bill pattern each biennium. In 1997, the Legislature included a rider to raise judicial salaries for fiscal 1998-1999, contingent upon a finding of fact by the Comptroller of Public Accounts that sufficient revenue existed to do so. The Comptroller's office did in fact make the finding and salaries were later increased.
Sources: General Appropriations Acts, 1989 - 2003, Texas Legislature.

When the salaries are adjusted to 2004 dollars, however, it can be seen that they actually declined toward the end of the period. For the current biennium, a Supreme Court justice is making 1 to nearly 3 percent less in 2004 dollars than in the 1990-1991 biennium (Exhibit 9).

EXHIBIT 9
Texas Judicial Salaries, 1990-1991 through 2004-2005 Biennia
Actual and Constant 2004 Dollars
  1990-
1991
1992-
1993
1994-
1995
1996-
1997
1998-
1999*
2000-
2001
2002-
2003
2004-
2005
Percent Change
Supreme Court
Chief Justice (Actual) $82,500 $91,875 $97,470 $97,470 $112,500 $115,000 $115,000 $115,000  
Adjusted to 2004 $116,129 $120,650 $121,493 $114,733 $127,340 $125,178 $117,931 $115,000 -1.0%
Associate Justice (Actual) $82,500 $89,250 $94,686 $94,686 $111,000 $113,000 $113,000 $113,000  
Adjusted to 2004 $116,129 $117,202 $117,697 $111,456 $124,756 $123,001 $115,880 $113,000 -2.7%
Court of Criminal Appeals
Chief Justice (Actual) $82,500 $91,875 $97,470 $97,470 $112,500 $115,000 $115,000 $115,000  
Adjusted to 2004 $116,129 $120,650 $121,157 $114,733 $126,436 $125,178 $119,325 $115,000 -1.0%
Associate Justice (Actual) $82,000 $89,250 $94,686 $94,686 $111,000 $113,000 $113,000 $113,000  
Adjusted to 2004 $115,425 $117,202 $117,697 $111,456 $124,756 $123,001 $117,250 $113,000 -2.1%
Courts of Appeal
Chief Justice (Actual) $74,250 $85,288 $90,482 $90,482 $106,175 $107,850 $107,850 $107,850  
Adjusted to 2004 $107,088 $112,000 $112,471 $106,508 $119,336 $117,395 $111,906 $107,850 0.7%
Associate Justice (Actual) $73,800 $84,788 $89,952 $89,952 $105,450 $107,350 $107,350 $107,350  
Adjusted to 2004 $106,439 $111,343 $111,812 $105,884 $118,518 $116,851 $111,387 $107,350 0.9%
Trial Courts
District Court Judge (Actual) $73,800 $80,325 $85,217 $85,217 $99,900 $101,700 $101,700 $101,700  
Adjusted to 2004 $106,439 $105,482 $105,926 $100,310 $112,280 $110,701 $105,525 $101,700 -4.5%
Note: Actual and adjusted salaries are those paid by the state and do not include county supplements.
*Judicial salaries were raised in both 1998 and 1999; for the 1998-1999 biennium, the number cited is an average.
Sources: General Appropriations Acts 1994-2005, Texas Legislature; and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Between 1990 and 2004, judges' salaries fared slightly better than those of classified full-time state employees (Exhibit 10).

EXHIBIT 10
Statewide Average Annual Salary
Classified Full-time Texas State Employees, 1990-2004
Actual and Constant 2004 Dollars
Year Average Salary* Adjusted to 2004 Dollars**
1990 $23,316 $33,628
1991 $23,842 $32,735
1992 $24,285 $32,371
1993 $25,257 $32,668
1994 $25,364 $31,963
1995 $25,661 $31,457
1996 $26,107 $31,136
1997 $27,503 $31,947
1998 $26,914 $30,759
1999 $27,407 $30,735
2000 $29,340 $31,892
2001 $30,104 $31,697
2002 $31,975 $33,178
2003 $32,407 $32,840
2004 $32,521 $32,521
Percent Change 39.5% -3.3%
* State Auditor's Office average salary amounts based on data from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts' Human Resources Information System, Standardized Payroll/Personnel Reporting System, and Uniform Statewide Payroll/Personnel System.
** Adjustment to 2004 dollars based on Consumer Price Index for U.S. urban consumers.
Sources: State Auditors' Office and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


Comparisons with Other States

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) publishes an annual survey of judicial salaries in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although the structure of court systems varies by state, this national survey employs four broad categories of judges in its salary survey: chiefs of highest courts; associate judges of courts of last resort; judges of intermediate appeals courts; and judges of general jurisdiction trial courts. The survey reports median salaries (the median being the point below which 50 percent of the salaries fall) for states that indicate a range of salaries for a position. The most recent survey also reports average annual percent changes in salaries over the 1997-2003 period (Exhibit 11).

EXHIBIT 11
Judicial Salaries in the U.S. as of October 2003
  Mean
(Average) Salary
Median Salary Salary Range Average Annual
Percent Change,
1997-2003
Chief, Highest Court $130,221 $125,485 $95,000 to $191,483 2.9%
Associate, Court of Last Resort $125,292 $122,418 $95,000 to $175,575 3.3%
Judge, Intermediate Appellate Court $121,697 $117,000 $91,469 to $164,604 3.2%
Judge, General Jurisdiction Trial Court $112,724 $109,810 $86,896 to $154,700 3.4%
Source: National Center for State Courts.

These figures indicate a fairly low level of growth in judicial salaries nationwide over the last six years, with chief justices of the highest courts receiving the lowest average annual change in salary (2.9 percent). The salary ranges also indicate that pay for these positions can be almost twice as high in some states as in others.

Judicial salaries for courts of last resort, intermediate appellate and general trial courts in all 50 states are presented in Appendix II of this report. These appendices illustrate that Texas ranks 38th in judicial salaries for courts of last resort; 34th in judicial salaries for intermediate appellate courts; and 26th in judicial salaries for general trial courts.

Judicial salaries in the ten most populous states and the federal court system are presented in Exhibit 12. As the exhibit illustrates, Texas has the lowest judicial salaries in every category. Among the ten states examined, California has the highest salaries in every category for which it employs judges (the California system does not have district courts). Judicial salaries are higher in the federal court system than in any state court system.

EXHIBIT 12
Judicial Salaries for the Ten Largest States and the Federal Judicial System 2003
  Chief Justice Associate Justice Superior Court Court of Appeals District or
Circuit Court
California $191,000 $176,000 $144,000 $165,000 N/A
Michigan $165,000 $165,000 N/A $151,000 $138,000
New Jersey $164,000 $159,000 $141,000 $150,000 N/A
Illinois $158,000 $158,000 N/A $149,000 $137,000
New York $156,000 $151,000 $137,000 $144,000 $123,000
Florida $154,000 $154,000 N/A $142,000 $133,000
Georgia $153,000 $153,000 $122,000 $152,000 N/A
Pennsylvania $143,000 $140,000 $135,000 $121,000 $60,000
Ohio $134,000 $126,000 N/A $117,000 N/A
Texas $115,000 $113,000 N/A $107-$112,000 $102,000 -$111,000
NATIONAL AVERAGE $130,221 $125,292 N/A $121,697 $112,724
Federal System $201,000 $193,000 N/A $166,000 $157,000
Source: National Center for State Courts.


Texas Judicial Pay Compared to That of Other State Employees

For this report, Comptroller staff reviewed the current state base salaries of statewide elected officials, attorneys, general counsels, administrative law judges and medical professionals. Appellate judges generally earn more than other statewide elected officials and state lawyers, but less than state-employed physicians and psychiatrists (Exhibits 13 and 14).

EXHIBIT 13
Salary Comparison Executive, Legal and Medical State Employees Versus Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Fiscal 2004
State Employees Total Number Average Annual Base Salary Number Earning More
than Chief Justice
($115,000)
Psychiatrists 119 $132,919 103
Agency Commissioners 28 $110,779 10
Physicians 121 $107,540 66
Agency Directors 41 $88,990 6
Agency Executive Directors 56 $80,297 4
General and Public Counsels 116 $77,958 6
Dentists 28 $68,128 0
Legislative Counsels 38 $61,308 0
Assistant Attorneys General 621 $61,272 1
Administrative Law Judges 100 $58,021 0
Attorneys and Special Counsels 836 $55,223 1
Associate Psychologists 231 $37,146 0
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


EXHIBIT 14
Salary Comparison of Statewide Elected Officials Versus Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Fiscal 2004
Official Number Annual Base Salary Number Earning More
than Chief Justice
($115,000)
Governor 1 $115,345 1
Agriculture Commissioner 1 $92,217 0
Attorney General 1 $92,217 0
Comptroller of Public Accounts 1 $92,217 0
Land Commissioner 1 $92,217 0
Railroad Commissioner 3 $92,217 0
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


Private Sector Comparisons

Although the salaries paid to Texas judges are high compared to those received by the average Texas wage earner, it is important to examine the types of salaries that judges could earn should they leave the bench. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's occupational employment and wage estimates, based on a May 2003 survey, Texas lawyers earned a mean (average) annual salary of $117,870, 9 percent higher than the national mean of $107,800.[38]

The most recent State Bar of Texas report on lawyers' salaries, based on 2000 data and published in 2001, indicated that the median income of private law practitioners in Texas with three to six years of experience was $81,908; with seven to ten years' experience, $96,874; and with 11 to 15 years' experience, $122,177. These salaries are equivalent to 71, 84 and 106 percent, respectively, of the salaries paid to the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The median income for private lawyers with experience levels roughly equivalent to those of the state's appellate judges was $147,916, 28.6 percent higher than the salaries of the chief justice and the presiding judge (Exhibit 15). For large firms of 100 or more attorneys, the median income paid to attorneys with similar levels of experience was $250,000.[39]

EXHIBIT 15
Median Salaries for Judges and Attorneys in Texas, 2000
Entity Median years licensed Salary
Supreme Court 23  
- Chief Justice   $115,000
- Associate Justice   $113,000
Court of Criminal Appeals 25  
- Chief Justice   $115,000
- Associate Justice   $113,000
Court of Appeals 24 $107,850
District Court 24 $101,700
Private Practice Attorney 21 to 25 $147,916
Corporate/In-House Counsel 21 to 25 $156,250
City Attorneys more than 15 $70,832
County Attorneys more than 15 $69,444
State Attorneys more than 15 $64,422
Federal Attorneys more than 15 $102,273
Source: State Bar of Texas, 2001.

The National Association of Law Placement, an association of law school career services professionals and lawyer personnel administrators, surveys law firms to determine the median base salary paid to recent law school graduates by law firm size and years of practice. Exhibit 16 shows the national median salary of first- through eighth-year associates (licensed attorneys who are salaried employees of a law firm and do not share in the firm's profits) at small, medium and large law firms.[40]

EXHIBIT 16
National Median Base Salaries for Associate Attorneys by Years of Experience and Law Firm Size
Associate Year Law Firm Size (Number of Attorneys)
2 - 25 51-100 101-250 501 or more All Sizes
First $65,000 $81,000 $88,500 $120,000 $95,000
Second $70,000 $84,000 $89,500 $130,000 $100,000
Third $75,000 $87,000 $91,812 $137,500 $105,000
Fourth $82,000 $91,750 $96,200 $150,000 $110,000
Fifth $82,063 $97,000 $102,000 $155,000 $115,250
Sixth $87,000 $98,000 $110,000 $167,500 $121,750
Seventh $85,400 $104,000 $127,076 $175,000 $128,500
Eighth $95,015 $108,000 $139,000 $185,000 $135,000
Source: National Association for Law Placement.

Law schools, such as the University of Texas School of Law, survey new graduates to gauge their subsequent success in the marketplace. Exhibit 17 shows survey information for 2000, 2001 and 2002. In those years, first-year attorneys in private practice earned 88 to 93 percent of the salary of the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The average salary was 75 to 79 percent of the salary of the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Salaries for recent graduates in public service (non-profit corporations) actually fell by 33 percent over the same period.

EXHIBIT 17
University of Texas School of Law Average First-Year Salaries
2000, 2001 and 2002 Graduates
2000 Graduates 2001 Graduates 2002 Graduates
Overall $85,675 $81,624 $90,971
Private Practice $101,401 $102,123 $107,439
Government $42,951 $39,466 $41,085
Judicial Clerkship $39,753 $41,195 $41,344
Public Service $42,750 $38,802 $28,300
Source: The University of Texas School of Law.


Federal Judicial Pay

Federal salaries for the judiciary have prompted similar concerns about pay inadequacies. Federal judges' pay currently is linked to the salaries of members of Congress.

Judges at the federal level may receive annual cost of living adjustments (COLAs), but because their salaries are tied to congressional salaries, if Congress chooses to deny itself a COLA, federal judges cannot receive it either.

Over the past decade, federal judges have received five COLAs. Despite these, their salaries have experienced a 9.8 percent decline in real purchasing power since 1993.[41]

The American Bar Association and Federal Bar Association issued a report in 2001 and a 2003 follow-up showing how the salaries of federal judges have declined in real dollars. They called for remedial action, without which, they argue, the capacity of the federal government to attract and retain the very best talent in public office will be jeopardized. Over the last 30 years, federal judicial salaries have declined in real value, while the salary of the average American worker rose by 17.5 percent in real terms.[42]

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist stated in his 2000 Year-End Report that he considers the need for increased judicial pay to be "the most pressing issue facing the judiciary today."[43]

EXHIBIT 18
Effects of Converting 95/90 Pay Scale to 120/110, Including 5.21 Percent Increase
Original State Salary or Supplement Raised to Additional Salary Expense per Judge Total Additional Salary Expense Additional Retirement Benefits (JRS II, 16.83%) Plus FICA (Medicare only at 1.45%)* Total Additional Cost to State
Supreme Court
Chief Justice (1) $115,000 $152,852 $37,852 $37,852 $6,370 $549 $44,771
Justice (8) $113,000 $150,852 $37,852 $302,816 $50,964 $4,391 $358,171
Court of Criminal Appeals
Presiding Judge (1) $115,000 $152,852 $37,852 $37,852 $6,370 $549 $44,771
Judges (8) $113,000 $150,852 $37,852 $302,816 $50,964 $4,391 $358,171
Court of Appeals
Chief Justice (14) $107,850 $138,781 $30,931 $433,034 $72,880 $6,279 $512,193
Justice (66) $107,350 $138,281 $30,931 $2,041,446 $343,575 $29,601 $2,414,622
District Courts
Average district judge salary in 5 largest counties (fiscal 2005, including local supplement and 5.21 percent increase) $125,710
District Judges and Criminal District Judges (424) $101,700 $107,000 $5,300 $2,247,200 $378,204 $32,584 $2,657,988
Prosecutors
Under Prof. Pros. Act (138) $101,700 $107,000 $5,300 $731,400 $123,095 $10,605 $865,100
Not under Prof. Pros. Act (15) $81,360 $85,600 $4,240 $63,600 $10,704 $922 $75,226
Assistant District Attorneys, 53rd Judicial District (Travis County) (2) $2,808 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
County Prosecutors Supplement (average) (170) $25,076 $26,385 $1,309 $222,547 $0 $0 $222,547
TOTAL $6,420,563 $1,043,126 $89,871 $7,553,560
Figures may not add due to rounding.
* Employers pay Social Security (6.2%) on the first $90,000 for 2005 taxable salaries and wages. Because these salaries already exceed that cap, no additional Social Security tax is owed. Employers pay Medicare (1.45%) taxes on all salary amounts.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

A 2003 report by the National Commission on Public Service, chaired by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker and directed by the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Service, described judicial salaries as "the most egregious example of the failure of federal compensation policies. Federal judicial salaries have lost 24 percent of their purchasing power since 1969, which is arguably inconsistent with the Constitutional provision that judicial salaries may not be reduced by Congress."[44]

On May 7, 2003, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation (S. 1023) to raise the salaries of federal judges by 16.5 percent, an average pay increase of $24,948 across all judicial offices.[45] S. 1023 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2003 but has not been debated by the Senate. The House companion legislation (H.R. 2118) was referred to the House Judiciary Committee in June 2003 and also has not been debated.


Judicial Salary Commissions

According to the NCSC, judicial salaries are set by state legislatures or based on recommendations made by judicial salary commissions. Some states provide their judiciary with COLAs or otherwise link compensation increases to the consumer price index.[46]

Twenty-one states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and New Jersey) have permanent judicial compensation commissions.[47]

Texas has attempted to establish such a commission, without success.[48] One such attempt was the 1995 Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency, which recommended creating a commission to make proposals on judicial salaries to the Legislature.[49] Another occurred in 1999, when voters defeated a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would have created an independent panel to determine judicial salaries.[50] The criteria for the proposed panel's decisions would have included:

  • a determination of the level of compensation necessary to attract highly qualified individuals to serve in the judiciary, unaffected by financial concerns;
  • the skill, experience and time required by the judgeship;
  • comparable compensation paid to judges in other states, including federal judges, private attorneys, arbitrators and mediators, state officeholders, university officials and district attorneys; and
  • changes in the cost of living.


Retirement Benefits

The Employees Retirement System (ERS) provides retirement and death and disability benefits for judges, justices and court commissioners. Judges who began service prior to September 1, 1985 are members of Judicial Retirement System Plan One (JRS I). Judges who began service after August 31, 1985 are members of the Judicial Retirement System Plan Two (JRS II).[51]

Members of JRS I and JRS II are required to contribute 6 percent of their compensation to general revenue, with contributions ending after the member has accrued 20 years of credit. State contributions continue thereafter.

For JRS I, the state does not contribute a specific rate but rather appropriates funds to administer the plan on a pay-as-you go basis. For JRS II, a new contribution rate for the next biennium is established by the state based on actuarial calculations. The current state contribution rate for JRS II is 16.83 percent of the total payroll of its members.[52]

Because some counties supplement the compensation of state judges and prosecutors with their own funds, their retirement systems have provisions allowing state judges and prosecutors to participate in the Texas County and District Retirement System (TCDRS) plan. In 2002 (most recent data available), 128 counties allowed district judges to participate in TCDRS; 69 counties allowed state prosecutors to participate.[53]


Recommendations


The Legislature should increase all state judges' salaries and revise the current "95/90" plan.

District judges should receive a minimum 5.21 percent raise, bringing their base salary to $107,000. Furthermore, rather than basing all judges' pay on either 95 or 90 percent of a Supreme Court justice's salary, the Legislature should pay Supreme Court justices 120 percent of the average salary of district judges, including local supplements, in the five largest metropolitan counties -- Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Tarrant and Travis. Courts of appeals justices should receive 110 percent of that amount, with all other differentials remaining in place.

This would cost the state an additional $7.6 million annually.

In fiscal 2005, the average district judge salary in the five largest metropolitan counties, including the 5.21 percent salary increase, is $125,710. According to the proposed 120/110 formula, judges on the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals would earn $150,852, an increase of $37,852 annually. This would raise Texas salaries from 38th to 9th place nationally for judges on courts of last resort, according to 2003 data (Exhibit 23).

Courts of appeals justices would earn $138,281 annually, raising them from 34th to 9th among national salaries for their peers, according to 2003 data (Exhibit 24). The average statewide district judge salary for fiscal 2005, with the 5.21 percent raise and current local supplements in place, would be $117,683, raising Texas from 26th to 18th place nationally, based on 2003 data (Exhibit 25).

Should the Legislature retain the 95/90 plan and raise salaries, Exhibit 19 outlines the total cost per $1,000 increment. This exhibit does not include the increased cost in 2005 for the federally mandated raise in the income threshold for FICA. The total annual cost per $1,000 raise under the current salary plan is $764,133.

EXHIBIT 19
Costs per $1,000 Raise to the Salary of Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Under Current Law
Cost Per $1000
Under Current 95/90 System
Current State Salary or Supplement Additional Salary Expense per Person Total
Additional
Salary Expense
Total
Additional JRS
Contribution (16.83%)
plus FICA (7.65%;
Medicare only at 1.45%)*
Total
Additional Annual Expense
Supreme Court
Chief Justice (1) $115,000 $1,000 $1,000 $168 $15 $1,183
Justice (8) $113,000 $1,000 $8,000 $1,346 $116 $9,462
Court of Criminal Appeals
Presiding Judge (1) $115,000 $1,000 $1,000 $168 $15 $1,183
Judges (8) $113,000 $1,000 $8,000 $1,346 $116 $9,462
Court of Appeals
Chief Justice (14) $107,850 $950 $13,300 $2,238 $193 $15,731
Justice (66) $107,350 $950 $62,700 $10,552 $909 $74,162
District Courts
District Judges and Criminal District Judges (424) $101,700 $900 $381,600 $64,223 $5,533 $451,356
Prosecutors
Under Prof. Pros. Act (138) $101,700 $900 $124,200 $20,903 $1,801 $146,904
Not under Prof. Pros. Act (15) $81,360 $720 $10,800 $1,818 $157 $12,774
Assistant District Attorneys Supplement, 53rd Judicial District (Travis County) (2) $2,808 $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
County Prosectors Supplement (average) (170) $25,076 $247 $41,915 $ - $ - $41,915
TOTAL $652,515 $102,762 $8,854 $764,133
Figures may not add due to rounding.
Note: Does not include other retirement costs that may be affected by this increase.
*Employers pay Social Security (6.2%) on the first $90,000 for 2005 taxable salaries and wages. Employers pay Medicare (1.45%) taxes on all salary amounts.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


The Legislature should allow all Texas counties, rather than the present handful, to increase their supplements beyond the current cap.

This recommendation could be implemented when all judges receive a raise. It would give counties the flexibility needed to adjust salaries based on local conditions.


The Legislature should require the Office of Court Administration to gather data biennially on judicial turnover, and should require the State Bar of Texas to do the same for private-practice salaries.

Reliable, unbiased data on the judiciary and the private legal profession should enhance public interest in and approval of judicial pay raise requests.


Note to Fiscal Estimates

Current judicial benefits for those who became judges after 1985 include, in addition to base salaries, a 16.83 percent state contribution to judicial retirement. This percentage is recalculated each biennium to allow the judicial retirement funds to remain solvent.

Federal FICA taxes have two components -- Social Security (12.4 percent) and Medicare (2.9 percent) -- that are paid equally by the employer and the employee. Social Security taxes are owed up to a cap of $87,900 in salary for 2004. In 2005, the cap will be raised to $90,000. Because current judicial salaries already exceed that cap, no additional Social Security taxes will be owed should judicial salaries increase. (The salaries of prosecutors not under the Professional Prosecutors Act are currently below the cap, so their FICA benefits are calculated including both Social Security and Medicare taxes.) The state-paid portion of Medicare adds an additional 1.45 percent cost for all salaries.

Health insurance costs are not included as additional costs in these estimates because they depend upon the number of judges, not their salaries. These estimates assume no change in the number of judges or courts.


Appendix I

Judicial Caseload Comparisons

The 50 states had 29,428 judges and other judicial officers (commissioners, magistrates and referees) in 2002. The number of state judges has risen by about 0.5 percent annually over the last decade, while the growth in the number of non-traffic court cases has risen by 2 to 3 percent annually.[54]

The National Center for State Courts collects information on court filings in all 50 states. According to NCSC's annual survey, state courts received more than 96.2 million filings in 2002. More than half (57.6 percent) of these filings were traffic cases (Exhibit 20).[55]

EXHIBIT 20
State Court Cases Filed in 2002
Type of Case Percentage of
Total Cases
Traffic 57.6%
Civil 16.3%
Criminal 15.4%
Domestic 4.6%
Juvenile 2.0%
Note: Numbers may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.
Source: National Center for State Courts.

One statistic calculated as part of the NCSC annual survey is total court filings per 100,000 citizens. This measure can be used to compare judicial workloads, although such comparisons can only be approximate since court systems vary in structure. It should be noted that these figures represent not only cases heard by state district and appellate courts, but also county and municipal courts.

In 2002, Texas led the ten most populous states in this measure for criminal court filings, yet had the second-lowest result for civil findings (Exhibits 21 and 22).

EXHIBIT 21
State Court Criminal Filings Per 100,000 Residents, 2002
State Rank by Population Size
(2000 Census)
Criminal Court Filings
California 1 2,127
New York 3 3,266
Georgia 10 3,304
Pennsylvania 6 3,363
Florida 4 3,973
Illinois 5 4,442
Michigan 8 4.568
New Jersey 9 5,549
Ohio 7 6,515
Texas 2 10,214
Note: court systems vary by state, so caseloads also may reflect varying court structures.
Source: National Center for State Courts and U.S. Census Bureau.

These statistics suggest that Texas courts receive five times as many criminal court filings as those in the most populous state, California.

EXHIBIT 22
State Court Civil Filings Per 100,000 Residents, 2002
State Rank by Population Size
(2000 Census)
Civil Court Filings
California 1 4,470
Texas 2 4,697
Illinois 5 5,656
Pennsylvania 6 6,576
Ohio 7 8,628
Michigan 8 8,637
Florida 4 8,728
Georgia 10 8,757
New York 3 11,840
New Jersey 9 12,319
Note: court systems vary by state, so caseloads may also reflect varying court structures.
Source: National Center for State Courts and U.S. Census Bureau.


Appendix II

Judicial Salaries Comparison

EXHIBIT 23
Judicial Salaries for Courts of Last Resort (2003)
Rank
State Salary Judicial Salaries Population
California $175,575 1 1
Michigan $164,610 2 8
New Jersey $158,500 3 9
Illinois $158,103 4 5
Florida $153,750 5 4
Georgia $153,086 6 10
Alabama $152,027 7 23
New York $151,200 8 3
Delaware $147,000 9 45
Nevada $140,000 10 35
Pennsylvania $139,585 11 6
Connecticut $138,404 12 29
Washington $134,584 13 15
Rhode Island $132,816 14 43
Virginia $132,523 15 12
Maryland $131,600 16 19
Minnesota $129,674 17 21
Massachusetts $126,943 18 13
Arizona $126,525 19 20
Arkansas $126,504 20 33
Ohio $125,500 21 7
Kentucky $124,415 22 25
Tennessee $123,684 23 16
Missouri $123,000 24 17
Wisconsin $122,418 25 18
Iowa $120,100 26 30
South Carolina $119,510 27 26
Nebraska $119,276 28 38
Louisiana $118,301 29 22
Alaska $117,900 30 48
Hawaii $115,547 31 42
North Carolina $115,336 32 11
Indiana $115,000 33 14
Kansas $114,769 34 32
Utah $114,050 35 34
Colorado $113,637 36 24
New Hampshire $113,266 37 41
Texas $113,000 38 2
Vermont $109,771 39 49
Oklahoma $106,716 40 27
Oregon $105,200 41 28
Wyoming $105,000 42 50
Maine $104,929 43 40
South Dakota $102,684 44 46
Mississippi $102,300 45 31
Idaho $102,125 46 39
North Dakota $99,122 47 47
New Mexico $96.283 48 36
Montana $95,493 49 44
West Virginia $95,000 50 37
District of Columbia $164,000
Federal System $193,000
Average $122,418
Median $125,292
Sources: National Center for State Courts and U.S. Census Bureau.


EXHIBIT 24
Judicial Salaries for Intermediate Appellate Courts (2003)
Rank
State Salary Judicial Salaries Population
California $164,604 1 1
Georgia $152,139 2 10
Michigan $151,441 3 8
Alabama $151,027 4 23
New Jersey $150,000 5 9
Illinois $148,803 6 5
New York $144,000 7 3
Florida $141,963 8 4
Pennsylvania $135,213 9 6
Connecticut $129,988 10 29
Washington $128,116 11 15
Virginia $125,899 12 12
Arizona $123,900 13 20
Maryland $123,800 14 19
Minnesota $122,186 15 21
Arkansas $122,093 16 33
Kentucky $119,380 17 25
Tennessee $117,924 18 16
Massachusetts $117,467 19 13
Ohio $117,000 20 7
South Carolina $116,521 21 26
Iowa $115,540 22 30
Wisconsin $115,490 23 18
Missouri $115,000 24 17
Nebraska $113,312 25 38
Louisiana $112,041 26 22
Alaska $111,384 27 48
Kansas $110,794 28 32
Hawaii $110,618 29 42
North Carolina $110,530 30 11
Indiana $110,000 31 14
Colorado $109,137 32 24
Utah $108,900 33 34
Texas $107,350 34 2
Oregon $102,800 35 28
Oklahoma $101,714 36 27
Idaho $101,125 37 39
Mississippi $95,500 38 31
New Mexico $91,469 39 36
Delaware N/A N/A 45
Maine N/A N/A 40
Montana N/A N/A 44
Nevada N/A N/A 35
New Hampshire N/A N/A 41
North Dakota N/A N/A 47
Rhode Island N/A N/A 43
South Dakota N/A N/A 46
Vermont N/A N/A 49
West Virginia N/A N/A 37
Wyoming N/A N/A 50
District of Columbia N/A N/A N/A
Federal System $165,500
Average $117,000
Median $121,697
Sources: National Center for State Courts and U.S. Census Bureau.


EXHIBIT 25
Judicial Salaries for General Trial Courts (2003)
Rank
State Salary Judicial Salaries Population
California $143,838 1 1
New Jersey $141,000 2 9
Delaware $140,200 3 45
Michigan $139,919 4 8
New York $136,700 5 3
Illinois $136,546 6 5
Florida $133,250 7 4
Nevada $130,000 8 35
Connecticut $125,000 9 29
Virginia $123,027 10 12
Washington $121,972 11 15
Georgia $121,938 12 10
Pennsylvania $121,225 13 6
Arizona $120,750 14 20
Maryland $119,600 15 19
Rhode Island $119,579 16 43
Arkansas $118,128 17 33
Minnesota $114,700 18 21
Kentucky $114,348 19 25
South Carolina $113,535 20 26
Tennessee $112,836 21 16
Massachusetts $112,777 22 13
Alabama $111,973 23 23
Nebraska $110,330 24 38
Iowa $109,810 25 30
Texas $109,158 26 2
Alaska $109,032 27 48
Wisconsin $108,950 28 18
Missouri $108,000 29 17
Ohio $107,600 30 7
Hawaii $106,922 31 42
New Hampshire $106,187 32 41
Louisiana $105,780 33 22
Colorado $104,637 34 24
North Carolina $104,523 35 11
Vermont $104,355 36 49
Utah $103,700 37 34
Kansas $100,255 38 32
Wyoming $100,000 39 50
Maine $98,377 40 40
South Dakota $95,910 41 46
Oklahoma $95,898 42 27
Oregon $95,800 43 28
Idaho $95,718 44 39
Mississippi $94,700 45 31
North Dakota $90,671 46 47
Indiana $90,000 47 14
West Virginia $90,000 48 37
Montana $88,164 49 44
New Mexico $86,896 50 36
District of Columbia $154,700
Federal System $157,000
Average $109,810
Median $112,724
Sources: National Center for State Courts and U.S. Census Bureau.


Endnotes

[1]National Center for State Courts, Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003 (Williamsburg, Virginia, 2004), p. 9.

[2]National Center for State Courts, Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003, p. 77.

[3]Office of Court Administration, "Judicial Branch: Structure and Operation," http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/jb/index.htm. (Last visited July 7, 2004.)

[4]Texas Judicial Council, Committee on the Equalization of Appellate Court Funding, State Funding for Texas' Appellate Courts (Austin, Texas, January 2002), pp. 9-10.

[5]Office of Court Administration, "Texas Judicial System Annual Report 2003: Caseload Trends in the Supreme Court," available in pdf format at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/sc/caseload_trends.pdf. (Last visited July 9, 2004.)

[6]Office of Court Administration, "Profile of Appellate and Trial Judges (as of December 30, 2003)," Austin, Texas.

[7]Austin American Statesman, "Perry Makes Historic Supreme Court Appointment," September 15, 2004.

[8]Office of Court Administration, "Summary of Reported Activity," available in pdf format at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/activity/statewide_activity_summary.pdf. (Last visited July 9, 2004.)

[9]State Bar of Texas, Department of Research and Analysis, "Statistical Profile of Texas Judges (2002-2003)."

[10]Office of Court Administration, "Profile of Appellate and Trial Judges (as of December 30, 2003)."

[11]Tex. Const. Art. V, §6.

[12]Office of Court Administration, "Court Structure Of Texas: Descriptive Outline (September 1, 2003)", http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/jb/index.htm. (Last visited July 9, 2004.)

[13]Office of Court Administration, "Texas Judicial System Annual Report 2003: Caseload Trends in the Fourteen Courts of Appeals," available in pdf format at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/coa/caseload_trends.pdf. (Last visited April 1, 2004.)

[14]State Bar of Texas, Department of Research and Analysis, "Statistical Profile of Texas Judges (2001-2002)", available in pdf format at http://www.texasbar.com/members/buildpractice/research/JUDGES.PDF. (Last visited August 21, 2003.)

[15]Office of Court Administration, "Profile of Appellate and Trial Judges (as of December 30, 2003)."

[16]Tex. Const. Art. V, §7.

[17]Due to legislation passed in the 2003 regular and special sessions, the Office of Court Administration now counts 424 district courts, with one more becoming effective on September 1, 2005. The fiscal 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act funds an estimated 418 judges' salary, but allowed funding for additional judges.

[18]Office of Court Administration, "Court Structure Of Texas, Descriptive Outline (September 1, 2003)."

[19]Office of Court Administration, "Caseload Trends in the District Courts," http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/district/index.htm. (Last visited July 9, 2004.)

[20]State Bar of Texas, Department of Research and Analysis, "Statistical Profile of Texas Judges (2001-2002)," available at http://www.texasbar.com/members/buildpractice/research/JUDGES.PDF. (Last visited August 21, 2003.)

[21]Office of Court Administration, "Profile of Appellate and Trial Judges (as of December 30, 2003)."

[22]Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §46.003.

[23]Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §41.013.

[24]Tex. H.B. 1, 77th Leg., Reg. Sess., Section IV, Judiciary.

[25]Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §31.

[26]Office of Court Administration, "Judicial Branch: Structure and Operation; Courts of Appeals Justices and District Court Judges Supplemental Compensation;" and "Courts of Appeals; Counties in Courts of Appeals Districts," both available at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/publicinfo/AR2003/jb/index.htm. (Last visited July 22, 2004.)

[27]Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Judiciary Section, computer printout generated July 6, 2004.

[28]Tex. S.B. 828, H.B.858, and H.B. 2402, 78th Leg., Reg. Sess. (2003); and Tex. H.B. 28, 78th Leg., 3rd Called Sess. (2003).

[29]Tex. H.B. 1, 78th Leg., Reg. Sess. (2003), p. IV-25.

[30]Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Judiciary Section, internal data.

[31]Tex. S.B. 828, H.B.858, and H.B. 2402, 78th Leg., Reg. Sess. (2003).

[32]Texas Office of the Attorney General, Opinion Request RQ-0079-GA (Austin, Texas, July 16, 2003), pp. 1-3.

[33]Texas Office of the Attorney General, Opinion GA-0099 (Austin, Texas, September 10, 2003), p. 8.

[34]Tex. H.B. 28, 78th Leg. 3rd Called Sess. (2003).

[35]Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §46.003.

[36]Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §41.013 and §46.0031.

[37]General Appropriations Bills, 71st (1989) through 78th (2003) Legislatures, Judiciary Section Article IV. These amounts do not include supplemental compensation provided by the counties to the appellate court and trial courts judges.

[38]U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Legal Occupations," http://www.bls.gov/oes/2003/may/oes_tx.htm#b23-0000; and "May 2003 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Legal Occupations," http://www.bls.gov/oes/2003/may/oes_tx.htm#b23-0000 (Last visited September 16, 2004.)

[39]State Bar of Texas, Department of Research and Analysis, 2001 Private Practitioner Income Report (Austin, Texas, 2001), pp. 5-7.

[40]National Association for Law Placement, "Entry-Level Associate Salaries Continue to Remain Stable in Large Firms; NALP Survey Details Private Practice Compensation Ranges," available at http://www.nalp.org/press/asr04.htm. (Last visited September 22, 2004.) For brevity, only selected law firm size data is included in Exhibit 16.

[41]The American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Federal Judicial Pay (Washington, D.C., May 2003), p. 12.

[42]The American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Federal Judicial Pay, p. 13.

[43]The American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Federal Judicial Pay Erosion: A Report on the Need for Reform (Washington, D.C., February 2001), pp. i, 2-3.

[44]The National Commission on the Public Service, Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century (Washington, D.C., January 2003), p. 22. The report is available in pdf format at http://www.brookings.edu/gs/cps/volcker/urgentbusinessreport.htm. (Last visited September 29, 2004.)

[45]The American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Federal Judicial Pay: An Update on the Urgent Need for Action (May 2003), p. ii-5.

[46]The National Center for State Courts, Memorandum: Setting Judicial Compensation Commissions and Other Mechanisms (Williamsburg, Virginia, April 30, 2002), pp. 1-14.

[47]National Center for State Courts, "Setting Judicial Compensation: Commissions and Other Mechanisms," (Williamsburg, Virginia, April 30, 2002 and March 2003), p. 1.

[48]Janet Elliott, "Prop 9 Measure on Judicial Salaries Rejected by Voters," Texas Lawyer (November 8, 1999), p. 4.

[49]Texas House of Representatives, House Research Organization, Amendments Proposed for November 1999 Ballot (Austin, Texas, August 31, 1999), pp. 33-35.

[50]Tex. S.B. 71, 76th Leg., Reg. Sess.

[51]Employees Retirement System of Texas, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year Ending August 31, 2002 (Austin, Texas, November 19, 2002), pp. 12-13.

[52]Towers Perrin, Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One and Plan Two, Actuarial Valuations Reports for Fiscal Year ending August 31, 2002, p. 6 -7.

[53]Texas County and District Retirement System, Comprehensive Annual Report, 2002 (Austin, Texas, June 13, 2003), pp. 160-187.

[54]National Center for State Courts Statistics Project, Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003, p. 11.

[55]National Center for State Courts Statistics Project, Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003, p. 10.