Monday, March 1, 2010

More perks for Clerk Magistrates

From The Herald:

Almost 200 high-paid clerk magistrates and their assistants are padding their pockets with thousands of dollars in bail fees, a little-known perk payment that fiscal watchdogs say should go to the cash-strapped commonwealth.

The $40 fees are incurred by suspects who pay bail set by clerk magistrates and assistants after hours, when courts are closed. The fee goes straight to the judicial staffers - on top of their salaries of $84,000 to $110,000.

“This is a striking amount of money these fees are generating for these clerks,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “They are paid well. This should be part of their responsibilities.”

Critics also warn of a possible built-in conflict of interest in the system: Rather than receive a flat fee for every suspect, magistrates collect the fee only if they set bail for a suspect and the bail is paid, potentially creating an incentive to set low bail.

“It’s clearly a temptation. Clearly from the point of view of a purer justice system, you don’t want this question to arise,” Widmer said. “It doesn’t engender trust in the judicial system to have this inherent conflict there.”

The fees are set by statute and can be changed only by the Legislature.


At March 2, 2010 at 1:29 PM , Blogger Framingham resident said...

Are these people salaried or hourly employees? Salaried, they are not entitled for additional compensaiton for working after hours. Hourly, they are getting overtime for doing this, so how can they justify that extra kick-back when they are already getting paid time and a half for being there. As to the incentives to wrtie low bail to make their money, that is the real problem. How many people would not have been allowed out to skip bail or offend again if the bail had been set to a higher amount that they could not pay?

At March 2, 2010 at 6:23 PM , Blogger Jim Pillsbury said...

Good points FR. I believe they are salaried employee's, but who knows how that whole thing got started.


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