Wednesday, August 14, 2013

 
BELOW IS AN EMAIL SENT BY JUDGE OLVERA TO  COMMISSIONERS COURT CONCERNING JUDICIAL PAY
 
I secured this email through an open records request. The thing I find most interesting about the email is, he never mentions how the low pay of Texas judges impacts the quality of candidates willing to run.  Judge Olvera is a good judge, but a complete argument would have included the problem related to retention of good judges because of the low pay.
 
From: Rolando Olvera
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 11:32 AM
To: Carlos H. Cascos; Sofia C. Benavides; Ernie L. Hernandez; David A. Garza (Commissioner); Dan A. Sanchez
Cc: District Judges; County Court @ Law Judges; Dalila Esquivel; Bruce Hodge
Subject: Formal Request for Approval of $3000 County Supplement to Cameron County District Judges
 
Dear County Judge Cascos, Commissioner Benavides, Commissioner Hernandez, Commissioner Garza, & Commissioner Sanchez:
 
Greetings and my best regards to everyone. As you may know, I am in Houston on temporary medical leave; I am responding well to treatment, and all current reports continue to be positive.
On behalf of our local judiciary, I write to each of of you on a most crucial issue. I respectfully and formally request your vote and passage of the legislatively approved $3000 county supplement soon available to District Judges. With said request in mind, I have become aware that there is a recent proposal to cut the existing judicial county supplement that has been in place since 2005; I implore you to reject said proposal. For your review, please consider the following key issues:
-Texas has the lowest paid judiciary of all the major urban states. The last Texas judicial pay raise and county supplement increase was in 2005. The judiciary has taken no part in any Cameron County raise granted to other county employees since 2005. The manner in which judicial raises are chronologically delayed over years in Texas forces the Texas judiciary to request all available funds when approved.
-The TX Legislature factors in county supplements as an integral part of establishing judicial salaries. The 2013 TX Legislature approved a 12% judicial raise and $3000 county judicial supplement, to become effective Sept. 1, 2013. The Senate had proposed a 21% increase, with the House proposing 10%; the compromised result was a 12% judicial raise, along with a $3000 county supplement factored into the salary equation. The idea that a county would attempt to cut the 2005 county supplement violates the legislative intent of the 2013 judicial raise; after eight years, the state did not intend for counties to unilaterally manufacture relative 2005 pay rates.
-Though not required to do so, but in the spirit of cooperation with the county, our judiciary actively pursues countless steps to assist the Cameron County budget, including but not limited to the following examples: assisting county with jail overcrowding through numerous forms of judicial orders, allowing the existence and expansion of duties of the magistrates to assist in avoiding or reducing inmate jail time, monitoring and even cutting court appointed attorney fees to be paid by the county.
- The Cameron County Judiciary has a long standing history and relationship of professionalism and cooperation with the Cameron County Commissioners' Court. The proposed cut of the 2005 judicial county supplement would be a severe blow to said relationship and counterproductive. Furthermore, it is possible that any proposed cut of a judicial supplement in place since 2005 may not be legal. Regardless, given the general strength of the upcoming county budget, there is no valid basis for such a drastic option.
In summary, as passed and confirmed by the 2013 TX Legislature, our judiciary rightfully deserves a long overdue raise, including the $3000 county supplement. Obviously, each county commission has the right to vote on said 2013 county supplement, but any proposed cut of a 2005 county supplement should be a nonissue. I thank you all in advance for your hard work, cooperation, consideration, and vote. A vote in favor of the 2013 judicial county supplement is a vote in support of our local judiciary.
Sincerely submitted,
Hon. Rolando Olvera
445th State District Court Judge of Cameron County

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