Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Associate Judge might not take job after all

Reporting by R.S. Gates
Story by The Legendary Jim Parks

Waco – The candidate selected by a committee of 4 McLennan County judges – two district and two courts-at-law – is wavering about taking the position for which he was appointed a week ago.

At the time, State District Judges Ralph Strother, Matt Johnson, and County Court at Law Judges T. Bradley Cates and Mike Freeman discussed a tentative rate of compensation, according to published reports.

The Commissioners' Court offered Virgil Bain, a criminal defense attorney, yearly compensation - and no travel pay - of $32,000 – a rate of pay that would amount to less than one-third the lowest paid magistrates in other jurisdictions statewide, according to the research of a veteran administrative assistant.

According to Administrative Assistant to Commissioner Joe Mashek Susanne Nemmer, “Mr. Bain will have to give up his attorney office and representing criminal clients all together, but for compensation and benefits of the county he feels this is a positive career move. The District Court Judges have a figure of $35,000 in mind, plus $300 monthly for fuel allowance and benefits. Mr. Bain will be able to continue family and civil law matters in his practice.

“If the job reaches the heights the judges expect in the future the salary could/should be commiserate (sic) with the additional duties as follows:

“I did some research and according to Dallas County the average Criminal Court Magistrate makes a high of $105,915 and the lowest paid makes $86,700. The highest paid also does magistrate work for Juvenile. In Jasper County the Criminal Court Magistrate’s salary is $72,500 with a $300 month fuel allowance. Further, in accordance with the 2012-2011 Occupational Outlook Report – Magistrate positions in STATE Gov. had a median income of $110,220 in 2008, where Magistrate Judges had a median income of $77,390 in LOCAL Gov.”

As a licensed attorney qualified for the postiion of Associate Judge, Mr. Bain would be allowed to accept pleas and hear pre-trial motions from the bench.

He was appointed to replace Judge Raymond Britton, a former Justice of the Peace from Moody whose Constabulary Precinct was eliminated in 2006. The Court appointed him to the position of Jail Magistrate, a part-time job that involved setting bonds and charging defendants who had been arrested overnight in the early morning hours before Justice Courts have arrived for a day's work.

An Act of the Legislature signed by Governor Perry in the latest session now requires that magistrates be licensed attorney. Judge Britton could have retained his position as a grandfathered office holder, but chose to resign, effective Jan. 1.

He worked for $24,000 per year, an emolument that precluded his serving in the capacity of a municipal judge, a position he occupies in the cities of Riesel, Moody and Bruceville-Eddy. The Texas Constitution forbids such a practice, according to an opinion crafted by District Attorney Abel Reyna. According to Mr. Reyna's legal resarch, the judge was deemed to have resigned his judgeships in the three municipalities upon the day he accepted the position as jail magistrate.

In other matters, Robert Wasson proposed the Court spend $20,000 to retain a Waco firm to revert the county's payroll system to a semi-monthly accounting period rather than the new bi-monthly system devised by a Tyler firm named Munis.

Edoc Technologies will devise a program that will do the following:

1) Enter employee's hours in daily/weekly basis;
2) The system will store all type of working hours and will allwo the payroll department ro review the hours in any date range period;
3) The system will allow the payroll department to export the hours to MUNIS, export fields will be date from, date to, employee code, hour's type and total;
4) The system will allow the payroll department to enter customized rules that will alert the user when the rule is broken.
5) The system will have a redefined users and permissions.
Employees have objected to the new system because though they make the same amount of money over the period of 12 months, the net amount of their checks is actually less in any given pay period due to the new accounting system.


  1. Refreshing story for a change, you stated the facts and nothing more. Makes for a good read.

  2. As I understand it the software edoc is going to design will allow the County to stay on its current semi-monthly payroll - something the employee's are used to and like. It was the munis system that was going to force them into a less desireable biweekly payroll.

  3. That is my perception, too. - The Legendary