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State Court judge, prosecutor may see raise

By Tyler H. Jones

tjones@civitasmedia.com

Judge Jeannette Little of Troup County State Court works in her office at the Troup County Government Center on Ridley Avenue in November.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_JudgeCMYK.jpgJudge Jeannette Little of Troup County State Court works in her office at the Troup County Government Center on Ridley Avenue in November.

File

LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Commissioners on Friday unanimously approved a resolution that asks the Georgia General Assembly to raise the salary of the county’s only State Court judge.

Currently, the position is one of the lowest paid State Court judgeships among comparable counties statewide, earning a yearly salary of $120,706. Spalding and Glynn counties, for example, pay their state court judges $146,048 and $155,064, respectively. Both of those counties have similar populations to Troup County.

Under the new request, the state court judge’s salary would be raised to $146,626, but only after a judge has served three terms in office. A judge who has served less than three terms would receive the current salary of $120,706.

The county’s State Court is responsible for overseeing misdemeanor cases — charges such as drunken driving or shoplifting and has concurrent jurisdiction with Superior Court concerning civil cases, excluding certain matters like divorce.

Judge Jeannette Little currently sits on the State Court bench, which is a position elected every four years at the same time as the president of the United States. She has held the position for seven terms and filled an unexpired term, giving her more than 30 years’ experience in the court. She is running unopposed for her eighth term in the upcoming election.

The solicitor-general’s position, which prosecutes misdemeanor crimes in State Court, also has a salary tied to the State Court judge’s compensation. By law, the solicitor-general is paid 70 percent of the State Court judge’s salary. Neither position is entitled to county retirement and do not receive raises when other county employees receive them.

If the General Assembly approves the change in salary, the solicitor-general’s compensation would jump from $84,494 to $98,438.

Nina Markette Baker currently serves as the county’s solicitor-general. She has held the office for three four-year terms and is running unopposed for a fourth term in the upcoming election.

The mechanism that will change the salary is local legislation in the General Assembly. Rep. Randy Nix of LaGrange is sponsoring the bill, which must pass the Georgia House and Senate and be signed by the governor to become law.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.