Roberts was appointed to the Walker County state court by Gov. Nathan Deal on Oct. 3, 2011, after the early retirement of judge Donnie Peppers on Aug. 31.
Roberts ran an unsuccessful campaign against Billy Mullinax this summer to retain the state court seat. He was defeated in the July 31 primary election. Mullinax, who has no opposition in the Nov. 6, general election, will take over the judgeship in January.
Roberts’ suit, filed Oct. 25, alleges that while Peppers had received an annual salary of $172,102 prior to his retirement, Heiskell “arbitrarily” assigned a $100,000 salary to Roberts upon his appointment.
In the suit, Roberts contends that his appointment before the expiration of Peppers’s term granted him incumbent status. He therefore feels that Heiskell’s salary judgment is contrary to the state constitution, which states that “an incumbent’s salary, allowance, or supplement shall not be decreased during the incumbent’s term of office.”
On Thursday, Heiskell said she had met with Roberts upon his appointment last October, at which time she had declared that the starting salary for the position was $60,000. Roberts, she said, had asked for a salary of $186,000. Heiskell then asked for his current salary before the appointment, which she said he stated was $94,000. Roberts’ second request was for $110,000, she said, and she offered him an even $100,000.
Heiskell said she and Roberts have not discussed his salary since.
“I thought he was okay with that,” she said. “I understand his situation, now that he’s not going to stay I’m sure he’s looking toward the future.”
Heiskell is seeking re-election and facing a write-in candidate on Tuesday.
The suit further states, “If relief is not granted to Petitioner, he will suffer pecuniary loss for which he cannot be compensated in damages, to wit, immediate loss of salary and related benefits. The actions of Respondents are unreasonable, capricious and arbitrary and is an illegal attempt to exercise a discretion which is clearly forbidden by Georgia Law.”