Mississippi Judge Fights to Increase Court Reporter Salaries in Lowndes County

According to the United States Department of Labor, the national average annual salary for court reporters was $55,000 in 2014. However, the three circuit court reporters employed in Lowndes County, Mississippi receive a much lower average annual salary of between $35,000 to $45,000 based upon experience. Still yet, these court reporters have not experienced a pay raise in their last eleven years of service.

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On August 14th, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens spoke at the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors meeting to call attention to the court reporters’ lack of satisfactory pay amounts, and asking supervisors to approve an $18,000 salary increase over the following three years.

The request came on the heels of a previous resolution passed by Mississippi legislature earlier in 2015, which allowed counties to offer court reporters working in circuit and chancery courts a $6,000 pay bump over a three year period. Despite the recommendation, the Board of Supervisors remained stagnant.

Kitchens maintained that court reporters should be considered dedicated and valuable team members within the judicial systems, and should be financial compensated as such. And although court reporters are officially employees of the state, local counties are ultimately given the responsibility to determine salaries.

District 5 supervisor Leroy Brooks felt torn over Kitchens’ request, explaining that if he agreed to increase court reporter salaries, the Board would likely be flooded with similar demands from other county employees seeking pay raises. He also stated that if the Mississippi legislature felt compelled to give court reporters more generous salaries, then it should bear the financial burden. Board President Harry Sanders echoed Brooks’ stance on the issue.

Although no decision has been reached, court reporters can expect an answer by September 2015. At that time, the Board is required to submit a budget for the following fiscal year, which begins on October 1st, 2015.

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