Judicial Compensation

Resource Guide

Due to the various methods used in determine judicial salaries, comparing the level of judicial compensation from state to state is complex; salaries may be affected by caseload, longevity in the position, pay differentials, population, employment status, local supplements, and the structure of the state court system. However, in an effort to attract qualified and experienced individuals to judicial office, as well as retain them during their most productive years, most states offer judicial benefits that enhance their compensation packages and attract qualified individuals.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

Judicial Salary Tracker.

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has published an annual Survey of Judicial Salaries for more than 30 years, and the Judicial Salary Tracker reflects a transformation in its systems of data collection and storage to make the data more timely and accessible.  The Judicial Salary Tracker not only allows viewers to review and download judicial salary information, it has graphic comparisons of the data.

Survey of Judicial Salaries Archives.

Links to Judicial Salary Survey Publications.

Gavel to Gavel Database.

Search the Gavel to Gavel legislation database based on state, year, legislation category, or any combination.  Bill Type = Salary & Budget.


Final Report of the Special Commission on Judicial Compensation (NY). (2011).

This report finalizes the commission's plan to phase in a significant salary increase for New York judges over the next three years.

Curran, Dennis J., Judge An Honorable Salary?. (2012). This report is a comparative analysis which studies the salaries of Massachusetts judges compared to the salaries of other legal (and non legal) positions within the state.  The report also has an Appendix.
Rottman, David, William Raftery, and Amy Smith. Judicial Compensation in New York: A National Perspective. (May 2007).

Requested by New York State Chief Justice Judith Kaye, the report on judicial compensation in the State of New York indicated the state failed all four salary criteria: equality, regularity, objectivity, and separation from politics. The findings and recommendations are contained in the report.

Stephen J. Choi, G. Mitu Gulati and Eric A. Posner. Are Judges Overpaid? A Skeptical Response to the Judicial Salary Debate. (Winter 2009). Journal of Legal Analysis 1, no. 1.

An empirical study of the high court judges of the fifty states provides little evidence that raising salaries would improve judicial performance.

Blake Denton. The Federal Judicial Salary Crisis. (2009). Drexel Law Review.

This Article argues that Congress, in its treatment of judicial pay, has violated the spirit and possibly even the letter of the Constitution.

Jonathan L. Entin Getting What You Pay For: Judicial Compensation and Judicial Independence. (2011). Utah Law Review.

The Compensation Clause does not forbid increases in judicial pay; rather it prohibits only reductions in judges’ salaries. This aspect of the clause undoubtedly reflects the notion that the prospect of a pay cut poses a greater threat to judicial independence than does a pay raise.

Neal B. Kauder and Patrick K. Davis. Judicial Compensation. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2008.

Discusses important issues in judicial salaries and provides a historical context, as well as an analysis of innovative practices in setting and tracking judicial salaries.

Kauder, Neal B. and Patrick K. Davis. Judicial Salaries: Current Levels and Future Expectations. (2005). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2005.

This article extends the analysis to include projections of future judicial salaries, including comparison to salaries of other professionals.

Scott, Kevin M. Judicial Salary: Current Issues and Options for Congress. (December 2007). This report was written for Congress to assist them in the decision making process when addressing the declining salaries of Federal Judges.
State Survey of Retirement Programs for Intermediate Appellate Court and General Jurisdiction Trial Court Judges. (2010).

The "State Survey of Retirement Programs for Intermediate Appellate Court and General Jurisdiction Trial Court Judges" is the most comprehensive comparative judicial retirement information currently available.

Salary Information. Washington Citizens Commission on Elected Officials Salaries The Washington Citizen Commission sets the salaries of the state's elected officials including the judicial branch. 
Survey of Judicial Salaries Archives. Knowledge and Information Services.

Semi-annual Survey of Judicial Salaries archive editions. Includes reports from 1976 to current edition.