ILNews

Advisory opinion expresses concerns over certain judicial pay arrangements

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has released an advisory opinion addressing salary payments to judges and judicial officers that may be made contingent on the number of cases filed with the court. The opinion cautions against accepting compensation from sources that may lead to the appearance of influencing the court.

The two-page opinion posted online focuses on the judges who do not receive a fixed salary for their work – such as some small claims judges or city and town court judges. Their pay may vary depending on the number of cases filed or a token sum per traffic ticket filed with the court.

"Judges who are paid by some measure other than an annual fixed salary must carefully analyze both the source of the funding and the entity’s function within the court to avoid any appearance of conflict. Judges who are paid per case filed in their court, or who are paid by an organization that holds a frequent role in court proceedings (such as a police department or debt collection agency), are especially susceptible to allegations of conflict or bias. Such payments need not be based on the type or frequency of case dispositions in order to be problematic,” the opinion states.

The CJQ pointed to a 2011 policy paper from the Conference of State Court Administrators that asserted the proceeds from fees, costs and fines shouldn’t be earmarked for the direct benefit of a judge or court official who may have direct or indirect control over the cases filed or disposed. This could damage public perception regarding the impartiality of the court.

“The Commission echoes this concern and believes that these types of variable judicial pay arrangements are of particular concern in jurisdictions where litigants may choose which court they wish to file cases. The standard for appearance of impropriety is whether a reasonable person could perceive that the judge engaged in conduct reflecting adversely on the judge’s impartiality,” the commission writes. “One can make a reasonable inference that a judge is more likely to rule in favor of a litigant who brings extra ‘business’ to the court. Even if the judge’s rulings are entirely free from outside influence, the mere existence of such a system can cast a cloud upon the integrity of the judiciary.”

It urges judges and judicial officers to avoid compensation arrangements that are based on the number of cases filed or disposed of by the court.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
2015 Distinguished Barrister &
Up and Coming Lawyer Reception

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 • 4:30 - 7:00 pm
Learn More


ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

ADVERTISEMENT