The judges asked the Cobb Legislative Delegation to give them a 3 percent salary increase in a Jan. 31 letter signed by 10 of the 12 judges.
State Court Division I judges, who handle higher level cases, receive a salary of $156,954.
Division II judges receive a salary of $134,454.
The chief judge, Toby Prodgers, gets $3,952 extra for a total of $160,906, although that extra is not included in the calculation of the raise, said Donna Tschappat, director of State Court Services.
Tschappat explained why two of the 12 state court judges didn’t sign the letter asking for the raise.
“Judge Marsha Lake had just filled her elected post on 1/1/2013, and that is why you will not see her signature, and Judge Thompson had not yet been appointed,” Tschappat said.
State court clerk Diane Webb and chief deputy clerk Angie Davis opted not to ask for the raises.
“We made the decision not to ask,” Webb said. “It was just not a good time for us to ask for it, we felt like. (State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) had just asked us early on to make a decision whether we were going to ask for the pay raise, and we just declined.”
State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) authored the bill to grant the raises, saying she obtained the needed signatures from state Reps. Don Parsons (R-east Cobb), Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb), Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), David Wilkerson (D-Austell), Sheila Jones (D-South Cobb), Roger Bruce (D-South Cobb) and Michael Smith (D-Marietta).
The path to approval for a piece of local legislation is for a majority of House members in the county’s legislative delegation to sign it. It’s then approved by the full House before transferring over to the Senate, where it goes through the same process.
Cobb’s Division I judges, in addition to Prodgers, are Carl Bowers, Melodie H. Clayton, David P. Darden, Irma Glover, Maria Golick and Kathryn J. Tanksley.
Cobb’s Division II judges are Eric Brewton, Bridgette Campbell, Jason B. Fincher, Marsha S. Lake and Henry R. Thompson.
Evans said she couldn’t have carried the bill authorizing the raises if the Cobb Board of Commissioners had not budgeted for it.
“The reason I was willing to carry the state court judge bill is this is an issue of local control,” Evans said. “The county commission is duly elected. They decided there were sufficient funds for raises. We are part of the process because we have to be statutorily, and I don’t think the state Legislature should stand in the way of a duly elected county commission when they decided raises should be given.”
Evans said judges are already underpaid as it is.
“If we want to be able to retain talent on the bench, we’ve got to be willing to pay for it,” she said.