Burke Co. judge wants $30,000 pay raise

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW) -- Recently, several Richmond County elected officials have asked for bigger paychecks and now a judge in Burke County wants one, too.

"I am a recovering alcoholic. I've been sober now for 20 years," said Judge Jerry Daniel.

Judge Daniel says his own battle with alcohol led him to reach out to others.

"I wanted to help people and that's why I started the DUI court," he said.

But that's not the only court he started after voters in Burke County elected him in 2005.

"He's the judge of the mental health court, as well as the family violence court," said Michael Popplewell.

Popplewell, who has worked with Daniel since the beginning, says the judge does get paid for the state court duties, but not the other three. So, they both went to ask the county commission to fix that on Tuesday night.

"That he just be provided with supplement for service to those courts," Popplewell said.

And ... "For a secretary and an office," Popplewell said.

At Tuesday's commission meeting -- the county administrator argued the judge already has an office, but Daniel says it's too small. There are no file cabinets for his paperwork, and he has to share the small space with another judge.

"Unless I'm mistaken, I think the office that (the administrator) is referring to was only offered to him a few months ago," Popplewell said.

Daniel requested an additional $30,000, which would take his salary to about $75,000, and Popplewell says he deserves it for one reason.

"The accountability courts are self-sufficient," Popplewell said.

Meaning that they all pay for themselves.

"Grants, DATE funds revenues, donations, as well as participate fees." Popplewell said.

So now, the judge will have to wait for answer using a method he became very familiar with as a recovering alcoholic: Take things one day at a time.

Something to note about the secretary he wants to hire. She's his ex-wife, and since they've been divorced for 30 years, he doesn't see it as a conflict of interest. He says she's simply the best person for the job.

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