Sunday, May 26, 2024

PAR public employee compensation: Average Louisiana state judges salary tops $170,000

by BIZ Magazine

[Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a four-part series addressing public employee compensation in Louisiana.]

Louisiana’s Supreme Court, appeals court and district court judges are roughly in the middle of the pack among states in the salaries they receive for their work.

The total differs depending on the type of court, but the typical salary for judges on those three types of courts in Louisiana is $170,629, according to data from the National Center for State Courts, a Virginia-based nonprofit that tracks judicial issues.

The data doesn’t include family court, juvenile court, parish court, city court and other types of specialty court judges. It also doesn’t necessarily account for the supplemental compensation that some judges in Louisiana and elsewhere receive.

Broken out by the type of court, the state’s six associate Supreme Court justices in Louisiana typically make $187,914; its 53 appellate court judges receive $175,797; and the hundreds of judges across the state’s 43 district courts make $168,949, according to the National Center for State Courts data.

In cases like Louisiana where judges receive supplemental pay, the National Center for State Courts reported the most representative data available — either base salary, the midpoint of a range between the lowest and highest supplemented salaries or the median. The chief justice of the Supreme Court was excluded from the data as he receives a higher salary than associate justices.

Among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., the data shows Louisiana ranks 26th in the salary its district judges received as of January 2023, roughly $5,000 less than the typical national salary of $174,000. However, when adjusted for the cost of living, that district court judge salary rises to $173,795 and moves Louisiana to 17th in the country, according to the comparison.

But Louisiana’s Supreme Court justices, appellate court judges and district judges will receive a raise on July 1 that could shift those numbers slightly. State lawmakers in 2019 approved a five-year pay hike plan that has given those judges and some others a 2.5% salary boost annually, with the final raise scheduled this year.

Under state law, the Judicial Compensation Commission makes recommendations about proposed changes to the salaries of Louisiana judges to the Legislature in even-numbered years, looking at the pay given to comparable judges around the country. No matter the suggestions of the commission, however, state lawmakers have the final say in setting salaries.

In comparison to the nine Southern states listed above, Louisiana hovers around the regional average for judicial pay for its top-level judges. Louisiana ranks fifth among the 10 states for its pay to state Supreme Court justices or the equivalent but eighth for appeals court judges’ pay.

South Carolina and Florida have some of the highest salaries for judges in the country. South Carolina pays its judges more than any other Southern state, with all judges making more than $200,000 annually.

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