U.S. District Judge Otis Wright filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection after reportedly being on the bench for just 5 years. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Wright and his wife filed a petition in December 2011 and claimed to have over $895,000 in liabilities compared to their assets being worth nearly $833,000. An annual salary of a district judge on average is about $174,000 but according to statistics from the United States Courts website, there are federal employees who make more than $200,000 a year.
Wright and his wife listed several outstanding debts including a Citibank credit card for $30,000 and two department store accounts being owed a combined $17,000. The attorney representing the couple claims the judge cleaned out funds from his retirement account to pay a portion of his outstanding debt before filing his bankruptcy petition. The court documents show income for the judge and his wife have declined in recent years. In 2009 they made a combined $271,000 but last year reported just over $171,000. A trustee may seek to sell their home in Rancho Palos Verdes which is reportedly valued at $1.2 million.
A federal judge filing bankruptcy may seem rare but many experts and politicians feel a judge should receive more compensation. A former Marine, Wright was appointed judge by George W. Bush in 2007. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Wright was a Los Angeles Country Sherriff Deputy and he also worked at the California attorney general’s office.