Judiciary asks for $20,000 more per judge in FY2006 budget

by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Judiciary of Guam was at the bargaining table today, justifying each item on its budget request for Fiscal Year 2006. One item that caught the eye of lawmakers was a request for raises.

Said Senator Bob Klitzkie (R), "If the judicial salary increase that you're asking for is approved how much would it be for each judge? It would be $20,000 for each trial judge, excluding the presiding judge, just the six. You take each trial judge from $100,000 to $120,000 - that's a pretty hefty salary increase."

Supreme Court justice Bob Torres explained that trial judges hadn't seen an increase in more than a decade, and that their salaries are actually below the national average. "You have to understand that they haven't had an increase or have been subject to any increments in probably twelve-plus years," he announced. "There are even some attorneys in the Government of Guam employed who make more than judges. Judges are clearly making less than some of the attorneys in the private practice, and if we're going to continue to want to recruit good trial court judges and who are willing to do the work, then we're going to have to look at wanting to give them a salary that they deserve."

The Judiciary also discussed the status of the Judicial Building Fund, and plans to use some of the money to upgrade its case management system. Justice Torres said that a committee has already been formed to evaluate how to implement a new system, which includes digital access to all court documents to the public.

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