Solicitor Inagawa sues for pay raise; high court agrees
The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Fayette County State Court Solicitor Jamie Inagawa in a legal battle with the Fayette County Commission over his salary for the past several years.
The court in an Oct. 15 opinion held that Inagawa’s salary was improperly calculated by the county from July 2007 through January 2009. The court also ruled that a piece of local legislation which took affect after that date to change the salary of Inagawa’s position is invalid because it conflicts with an existing state law.
The July 1, 2007 date is key to the scenario because on that date the county raised the annual local supplement paid to its state court judge from $5,000 a year to $38,237 a year. At the same time, Inagawa’s local supplement remained at $5,000 a year.
That resulted in a pay disparity of $18,567 a year that Inagawa should have been receiving, according to the court.
Inagawa’s salary is set at an amount equal to 75 percent of the salary of the state court judge. The state court judge’s salary, in turn is set at 85 percent of the base salary of a state superior court judge.
Complicating the matter was a 2008 amendment to the law setting Inagawa’s salary at 68 percent of the base salary of a state superior court judge. That law constituted a reduction in salary and thus violated an existing state law that a solicitor’s pay could not be reduced during his term in office, the court ruled.
The court ruled the 2008 amendment to the local legislation was invalid in this application because of that conflict with state law.
The Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the lower court with an order to calculate the total back pay owed to Inagawa along with interest.