Kentucky Chief Justice: Judicial Branch Salaries Lagging Behind

Nov 26, 2013

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton told a government subcommittee Monday that the Judicial Branch has ignored pay issues for too long.

The branch has reduced its court personnel by more than 10 percent over the past five years and lower-level employees continue to shoulder most of the burden when it comes to cuts, Minton says.

Designated court workers and Drug Court and Pretrial Services employees are seeing their workload increase while pay continues to trail the Executive and Legislative branches. More than a fourth of the branch’s non-elected employees fall below the federal poverty guidelines for a family of four. An even larger number qualify for food stamps.

"Responsibilities of pretrial officers have increased markedly. We need to hire more people. We need to be able to pay our people that work for us more because much more is being demanded of them. Some of them who are working in multi-county circuits are spread very, very thin," Minton says.

The Chief Justice urged the committee to consider a comprehensive salary restructuring for the Judicial Branch along with a plan that would allow the branch to gradually increase judicial salaries over the next several years to put them on par with judges in surrounding counties.  

As responsibilities increase, Minton says the state must stay competitive in order to attract quality applicants for court workers.