Judicial Compensation Commission

Summary of Meeting of January 13, 2006

Room 334, State House


Convened:  9:45 a.m.


Members Present:

            Edwin N. Clift

            Sandra Featherman

            Horace A. Hildreth, Jr.



            Lock Kiermaier, Legislative Analyst, Office of Fiscal & Program Review


Others Present:

            Edward Kelleher, Public Information Officer, Judicial Department; Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Clifford; District Court Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere , Superior Court Justice Joseph M. Jabar and  Thomas Federle, Governor’


            Chair Featherman convened the meeting by  asking for discussion on the present version of the commission’s draft report.  Chair Featherman noted the need for an addendum to the report which will contain detailed data that highlights relevant points of the report with explanatory text.


Chair Featherman then requested that commission staff person Lock Kiermaier to make presentations regarding several items on the proposed agenda.


            Mr. Kiermaier began by briefly reviewing the latest “Survey of Judicial Salaries” published by the National Center for State Courts in April of 2005:


-         $97,000 to $198,567 for Chief, Highest Court;

-         $95,493 to $182,071 for Associate Justice, Court of Last Resort;

-         $101,612 to $170,694 for Judge, Intermediate Appellate Courts; and

-         $88,164 to $163,850 for Judge, General Jurisdiction Trial Courts.


Chair Featherman then asked that commission staff provide the commission with comparative revenue and appropriations data for the commission’s next meeting. Mr. Kiermaier was directed to use his judgment as what data would be appropriate for this purpose.


The commission then turned to the next item on the agenda, that of judicial retirement issues, and invited District Court Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere and Superior Court Justice Joseph M. Jabar to speak on this issue. Judge LaVerdiere and Justice Jabar emphasized that there was a different perspective that could be had from that presented to the commission by the Maine State Retirement System.  First, it could be argued that current law could be interpreted to infer that legislative intent had been to allow portability between the Maine State Retirement System, the Judicial Retirement System and the Legislative Retirement System.  Second, it could also be argued that the constitutional amendment which prohibited the creation of unfunded liability for the Maine State Retirement System pertains only to that system and not to the judicial and legislative retirement systems.


After considerable discussion around these issues, commission staff person Lock Kiermaier suggested that the commission could ask the Attorney general for a formal opinion to provide the commission with guidance on this issue.  Commission members then voted unanimously to request such a written opinion from the Attorney general on these issues. 


Chair Featherman than adjourned the meeting with the understanding that the commission would next meet to review the Attorney General’s opinion as soon as it is available.