How does the law require a county within a multi-county judicial district to calculate the pay for a court-at-law judge?
John Winkelmann, assistant county attorney in Washington County, wrote a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott on Aug. 19 asking about how the pay for his county’s CCL judge is tied to the area’s district judge salaries. The Texas Office of the Attorney General assigned his request the number “RQ-1146-GA.”
Each district judge in Texas receives compensation from the state and optional county supplemental pay. The Texas Legislature in the regular session approved a 12 percent pay raise for district judges, setting their state salary at $140,000, plus county supplements, with a $158,000 maximum.
The raise will trickle down to CCL judges, since Texas Government Code Sec. 25.0005 says that a statutory county judge’s salary is, “set by the commissioners court at an amount that is at least equal to the amount that is $1,000 less than the total annual salary received by a district judge in the county[.]”
The statute notes that the “total annual salary includes contributions and supplements, paid by the state or a county.”
Winkelmann noted in his letter that Washington County is in a multi-county judicial district that also includes Bastrop, Burleson and Lee counties. The district includes two district judges. While Burleson and Lee counties have opted to give them supplemental pay, “Washington County does not,” wrote Winkelmann.
“Being that Washington County does not supplement the district judges salaries, it is my opinion that the salary calculation of the Washington County Court at Law Judge should not include the supplements paid to the district judges by other counties in our district,” he wrote.
Winkelmann declines comment. Washington County Court-at-Law Judge Matthew Reue, County Attorney Renee Ann Miller, County Judge John Brieden each didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment before deadline.
-- Angela Morris