Most N.C. judges agree to voluntary pay cut

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WINSTON-SALEM (AP) ó Most judges in North Carolina have agreed to voluntary pay cuts in line with those being imposed on state employees, justice officials said.
Officials at the state Administrative Office of the Courts said 368 of the state’s 396 trial and appeals judges agreed to the 0.5 percent salary cut imposed on regular employees by Gov. Beverly Perdue, the Winston-Salem Journal reported Wednesday.
Last month, Perdue ordered a pay cut for all state workers in May and June equal to a half-percent of their annual salary as shrinking tax collections force her to find about $1 billion more to close a widening gap. The move would save about $65 million.
The AOC said four judges said they would give back the half percent but not by payroll deduction.
Forsyth County Superior Court Judge William Z. Wood Jr. said he would give back, but had concerns about temporarily waiving the constitutional protection against reducing a judge’s salary.
“I felt like I had I guess you’d say a moral obligation to my fellow employees,” Wood said, “but at the same time I’m not going to compromise the independence of the judiciary.”
North Carolina’s Constitution protects judges against reduction in pay while they are on the bench. But pay for other court personnel, such as clerks and prosecutors, isn’t protected.
Chief Justice Sarah Parker of the N.C. Supreme Court sent elected judges a memo two weeks ago asking that they agree to the pay cut.
“Knowing your strong commitment to the people of North Carolina, I am confident that you will join with me in fulfilling this duty to the public,” Parker wrote.
The courts office said all seven state Supreme Court justices and the 15 judges of the state Court of Appeals signed up for the voluntary cuts.
Base pay for judges ranges from $109,372 for District Court judges to $124,382 for Superior Court judges. Judges also earn longevity pay and raises for legal experience.
Information from: Winston-Salem Journal,