Panel Says District Judges Should be State Employees

JULY 27, 2006 - Posted at 7:44 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Twenty of Arkansas's 115 district judges would become full-time state employees under a pilot program recommended by legislators.

The recommendation was made yesterday by the Legislative Task Force on District Judges in a report the group said it will release in full later this year.  The focus of the group's work since December has been studying whether district judges should be state employees.

The 11-member panel recommended that the state in 2009 begin a pilot program where up to 20 judges would be recommended for full-time employment by the state.  The salary for judges in the program would be $115,000.

The program would be based on who volunteers for the full-time status, and about ten judges have already said they're interested.  If more than 20 judges volunteer, participants will be chosen based on their case load.

Under the proposal adopted Wednesday, half of the salary for the judges under the program would be paid for by local governments for the district.  The state would pick up the other half and pay for all the benefits.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)