Hourly pay reduced for Nevada 'senior' judges

RENO" The Nevada Supreme Court has reduced the hourly rate paid to "senior" judges in a move to trim costs.

But officials say using retired judges and justices to fill in when sitting judges are ill or on vacation remains a bargain for taxpayers.

Senior judges were paid at an hourly rate of $100, but that changed May 1 to $86 per hour, and they'll now be paid by the half day or full day rate in the hopes of cutting down on costs, Hardesty said.

The newspaper on Monday reported that senior judges earned hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in recent years while working quarter or half time on cases.

Nevada's elected judges make $130,000 to $158,600 annually, depending on their time on the bench, for working a regular 2,000-hour year. Washoe District Court Chief Judge Connie Steinheimer said most sitting district judges work 50- to 55-hour weeks, about 2,750 hours per year for the same base pay.

But in fiscal year 2006, retired Judge Noel Manoukian worked 1,043 hours " or about half the year " and was paid $98,511, the high court reported.

Retired Judge Peter Breen worked 1,141 hours in fiscal year 2007, and took in $107,715 from the state, and retired Judge Charles McGee, who served time in jail on DUI charges in 2003, worked 759.75 hours in 2007, and was paid $71,723, the court said.

Former Supreme Court Justice Deborah Agosti, who helped retired Justice Bob Rose argue for an increase in funding for the program before opting out of seeking re-election, has worked about 650 to 730 hours over the past three years, and received checks for about $66,000 to $74,000, the report said.

Rose put in for 547.75 hours in fiscal year 2008 and was paid $55,687.93 by the program.

Senior judges are paid in addition to their retirement checks. They are compensated for travel, reimbursed for personal health insurance costs and have their State Bar dues covered each year.

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