Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Kansas City Pays Too Much for its Judges

Kansas City's municipal judges - the drudge workers of the local judiciary - are now paid more than Missouri's Supreme Court judges. With an annual 4 percent raise, which took effect May 1, Municipal Court judges now make almost $129,000 a year. Compare that to Circuit Court judges (the ones who handle civil lawsuits and serious crimes) at $108,000, Appellate Court judges (the smart judges who handle appeals) at $115,000, or state Supreme Court judges, who make $123,000 a year.

This is insane.

Kansas City judges are on a gravy train. Out in the real world, these are not attorneys who would be making good money. If they went looking for a real job, they might bring in $75,000, if they doubled their work hours and gave up their cushy benefits. (It's possible that a couple of them could get higher-paying jobs, but, as a group, this is not a highly-employable bunch.)

I don't really begrudge the judges wanting to be vasty overpaid for what they are worth. I have sat in their courtrooms and watched them face a long docket of rude people lying to them. I do, however, have a huge problem with our City Councilmembers wasting our tax money by giving them whatever they want.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on, dan, it is politics, pure and simple that has resulted in the muni judges being the highest paid, and the state judges less well paid.
and based on my 21 years experience with the various courts, i don't see much difference in the quality of the judges.

5/10/2005 8:22 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

What?!?! I've never heard of a lawyer who has appeared in front of the municipal judges on more than a few occasions that would equate them with their superiors on the circuit bench, or above that. These are the same judges who got busted for working 20 something hour work weeks a couple years ago. These are the same judges that just had one of their colleagues admit to taking loans from the bench. These are the same judges that look like a first-year law student if you mention an evidentiary issue. These are the same judges that refuse to work on Friday afternoons, or even, God forbid, weekends or after-hours so that the people of Kansas City, their employers, can go face them without giving up a day of work.

There are a couple good judges down in the municipal court, and there are a couple somewhat weak judges on the circuit bench, but the difference in quality is stark.

And, yes, of course it's politics that causes the municipal judges to be vastly overpaid. That was my point. Our politicians are rewarding their friends instead of protecting the taxpayers.

5/10/2005 5:47 PM  
Blogger K said...

Interesting. We have overpaid judges sitting in a dilapidated, antiquated, and downright unsafe courthouse that's an embarassment to the city and the citizens who have the misfortune to visit them. Perhaps they need a cut in pay and the funds could be diverted into funding better security. Or the funds could pay for preliminary design work for a new municipal court building.

5/11/2005 11:55 AM  
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11/13/2006 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muni Judge, Circuit Judge, all political appoitments.

Sure, the CJ's work harder, but they are just as flawed as the boys and girl at muni.

Who ya kiddin, Dan?

12/07/2006 6:06 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm not kidding anyone. The municipal judges are wildly overpaid. Can anyone disagree with that?

12/07/2006 6:21 AM  

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