This story was published 3 years ago. The salaries are most likely higher at present, and hopefully so are the ethical standards in places like Placer County.
Survey says: Pay for state's court executives released
By Greg Moran
DEC. 3, 2009
As the head of the San Diego Superior Court, Executive Officer Michael Roddy runs the second-largest court system in the state, with 154 judges and judicial officers and 1,709 full time employees.
For his efforts, Roddy is paid $223,953, with another $41,000 in benefits per year.
Though San Diego’s court trails only Los Angeles in size, Roddy’s salary is not the second highest for court executives in the state.
He might consider the job in Contra Costa County, far smaller than San Diego with 38 judges and 428 employees. The chief executive there makes $229,338 per year, and another $37,000 in benefits. That's the highest paid court executive salary job in the state, surpassing even Los Angeles County, with 441 judges and 5,540 employees. (The CEO there makes $220,980 per year but gets the most in benefits -- $75,388, pushing the total compensation ahead of Contra Costa).
Or Santa Clara County, with 79 judges, 889 employees, and a chief executive who earns $225,528 per year.
In tiny Inyo County, with two judges and 21 employees, the chief executive there is paid $139,869 —more than half of what Roddy makes in San Diego overseeing a system dozens of times larger in terms of judges and employees.
These wide disparities in pay and benefits among the state’s 58 court chief executives are laid out for the first time in recently-completed survey by the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Unlike state court judges, whose salaries are the same regardless of where they serve, the pay and benefits of the court systems top executives are set on a county-by-county basis. Each county has its own policy for setting and modifying salaries of court executives.
That patchwork system is a vestige of the time when individual counties funded the courts. That all changed 12 years ago when the state took over trial court funding.
Individual Superior Courts, however, remain the employers for all court workers. Court executive officers are employees of their individual courts, reporting to the presiding judge for each court system.
All of that has led to a spectrum of pay and benefit policies, and some controversy.
The survey done by the AOC was sparked by revelations that the salary of the former chief executive in Placer County increased 11 times in seven years, rising from $162,000 in 2002 to $304,0000 in 2008. A special audit conducted by the AOC said that for many of the increases there were no records showing who approved it.
This month the Judicial Council, the policy making arm for the state courts, is expected to review the survey and propose policies and guidelines for setting pay for court executives.
The council can’t set individual policy and benefits for the state’s court systems, said Peter Allen, senior communications manager for the AOC. But it will be presented with a model personnel policy each court could use when setting CEO pay, he said. It will be interesting to see how widely that model is accepted in the current contentious environment between some trial court judges and the Judicial Council/AOC...