By Jed McKeehan

When we think about individuals who hold positions of authority in our life, there are a only a few different positions that immediately come to mind.  Law enforcement, a spiritual leader, your boss, and your parents are those people who you encounter on a regular/semi-regular basis who in some way hold some level of authority over you.

Another position that can be added to that group is that of a judge.  Some people may never go before a judge in their life, while some people go before a judge on a regular basis, either way, most people would acknowledge that they hold an important position and serve a very important role in our society.

With that very important role, you may think that judges make a significant amount of money.  Well, because judges are elected individuals and employed by the government, their salaries are public record and their amount of compensation is set by statute.  So we can figure out how much they make.  The statute that sets their compensation is Tennessee Code Annotated section 8-23-103 and is titled, “Salaries of judges, justices and chancellors.”

Pursuant to the statute, beginning September 1, 2006, all chancellors and judges received a salary of $140,000.00 per year.  Judges on the court of appeals (a higher court) receive $5,000.00 more than that, and judges on the Tennessee supreme court (the highest court in the state) receive an additional $5,000.00 on top of both of those amounts.

Every year on July 1, judges’ salaries are reviewed and potentially increased based upon any upward deviations in the consumer price index.  Now that we are 11 years, removed from 2006 when those salaries were set, it’s hard to know the exact amount that judges make without doing some math, but I believe the current amount is around $165,000.00 to $170,000.00 per year.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.