For fourth year in a row Gavel to Gavel named an ABA Journal Top 100 law blog!


I just received word that for the fourth year in a row Gavel to Gavel the blog has been named one of the ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs (law blogs). It is an incredible honor and it (literally) could not have happened without the support of you, the readers. Thanks!

I also want to thank LexisNexis, which provides the access to the legislative database that is the backbone of Gavel to Gavel.

Pennsylvania: Voters will decide in 2016 whether to extend state’s mandatory judicial retirement age; Oregon also on ballot

2016 will once again prove to be a very active year when it comes to mandatory judicial retirement ages. In addition to Oregon, which will vote on whether to repeal their retirement age, Pennsylvania voters will get a chance to vote on extending theirs.

Under the state’s 1969 Judiciary Article (Art. V, Sec. 16(b)) judges were required to retire at the age of 70.

Justices, judges and justices of the peace shall be retired upon attaining the age of 70 years.

A 2001 amendment discussed here allowed judges to stay on until the end of the year they reached 70.

Justices, judges and justices of the peace shall be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70 years.

Now under HB 90 as approved by the state’s Senate earlier this week voters will decide whether or not to let judges stay on the bench until the end of they year they reach 75.

Justices, judges and justices of the peace shall be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years.

It remains to be seen if Pennsylvania voters will approve the item. As I’ve previously written such efforts to increase or repeal mandatory judicial retirement ages have not fared well at the ballot box in the last decade.

Florida: plans for term limits for appellate courts clear subcommittee; retroactive provision stricken in committee

The Florida House Judiciary’s Civil Justice Subcommittee approved yesterday a plan to put term limits on the state’s appellate judges. HJR 197 was approved on an 8-5 vote after an amendment to specify that it would not apply retroactively to oust sitting judges and justices. Proponents argued that since the executive and legislature are term limited, the judiciary should be as well. There were also claims that term limits on judges would preserve liberty and that retention elections did not provide for accountability to the public. Several committee members cited to trial judges, who are elected in the state in nonpartisan races, as “accountable” and specified that they did not want term limits applied to trial court judges.

As previously noted, no other state imposes term limits on judges, aside from New Mexico Probate judges.

HJR 197 now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee.

Virginia Legislative Year in Review: increase to mandatory judicial retirement age, but only for some judges


HB 1506 Requires that the guidelines for conditions of all deferred or installment payment agreements for the payment of court-ordered fines or other penalties be reduced to writing as well as posted in the clerk’s office and on the court’s website, if a website is available.

HB 1984 / SB 1196 For appellate judges, increases mandatory judicial retirement age 70 to 73. For trial judges, increases mandatory judicial retirement age 70 to 73 only for those trial judges elected or appointed after July 1, 2015.

SB 789 Permits the Committee on District Courts to adopt an official seal and authorize its use by district court clerks and deputy district clerks.

SB 1048 Provides Capitol Police may provide protection to members of the Court of Appeals (Supreme Court already covered in existing law).


Wisconsin: bill would place text of proposed Supreme Court rules changes online rather than in newspapers

Like most state courts of last resort, the Wisconsin Supreme Court can exercise rulemaking authority over the courts. How that power is exercised is spelled out, in part, in state law (751.12(3)) which provides in operative part that notices of the rules changes, including the entire text of the rules change, be published in newspapers and the State Bar’s official publication.

Under AB 443 and SB 346 filed this week, however, the full text would be provided on the Court’s website.

Proposed rules, including changes, if any, in existing rules, shall be set forth in full in the notice placed on the Internet site maintained by the director of state courts for the supreme court.

The Assembly version of the bill was heard yesterday (10/29) in the State Affairs and Government Operations Committee, while the Senate version cleared that chamber’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety yesterday as well.