Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. told the Virginia Judicial Council today that he will forgo the 2 percent raise the General Assembly has approved for judges.
He said he will leave to the conscience of individual judges whether they will do the same.
Other state employees got the same raise, but Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has deferred it for them because of the state budget shortfall.
The state constitution forbids the diminution of a judge’s salary, so judges will receive their raises unless they reject them.
When a similar shortfall occurred during the administration of former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, he asked judges to forgo their raises.
Hassell said he will not make such a request this time but added, “I will not accept 2 percent when [other court employees] will go without.”
He noted after a reminder from Sen. Henry L. Marsh, D-Richmond, a member of the council, the different approaches judges took after Wilder’s request.
A relative few took the increase, while some did not take it, some took it and donated it to charity, and some took the money and refunded it to the state because they were near retirement and the higher salary increased the size of their pensions.
Hassell said the judiciary has identified about $5 million in reductions for 2008-10 budget. They include a hiring delay of 90 days when a vacancy occurs, the elimination of the judicial program department, the elimination of voluntary judicial conferences and the reduction of a day in mandatory conferences.
By Alan Cooper