Ohio Issue 1: What other states tried to increase or remove their judicial retirement ages and how did they do?

Ohio voters will head to the polls November 8 to decide the fate of Issue 1, marking the sixth time in 20 years the question of judicial retirement has been on the ballot (Hawaii 2006; Louisiana 1995 & 2003; Pennsylvania 2001; Texas 2007; Vermont 2002), with 4 victories to 2 defeats.

Four legislatures have adopted statutes to alter retirement (Indiana 2011; Kansas 2003 & 2010; North Carolina 1992; Vermont 2003). Moreover, Arizona has advanced a proposed change for the 2012 ballot while New York voters will probably address the issue in 2014. This marks a trend over the last several years in particular of state legislatures confronting judges living longer and the question of whether there should be any limits on service at all.

State by state breakdown below the fold.

Alabama

In the last decade, Alabama’s House and Senate have at various times both passed constitutional amendments for the elimination of mandatory judicial retirement and rejected them as well.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1999

SB 307

70 to 74

Approved by Senate committee

2001

HB 858

Eliminate

Killed by full House

2001

SB 594

Eliminate

Died in Senate committee

2002

SB 358

Eliminate

Died in Senate committee

2002

HB 128

Eliminate

Approved by full House. Died in Senate committee

2003

HB 24

Eliminate

Killed by full House

2003

HB 84 (Second Special)

Eliminate

Died in House committee

2010

HB 537

70 to 72

Approved by full House and Senate committee. Killed by full Senate.

2011

SB 266

70 to 75

Killed in Senate committee

Arizona

All efforts since 1990 to change the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 have focused on increasing it to 75. The first round of bills (2002-2004) met with some success in the House but not the Senate. A second round (2005-2006) included a Senate effort to increase for the state’s main trial court judges (Superior Court) only. The Senate approved, the House balked. The third and continuing round (2007-2011) tied the increase to 75 with changes to the state’s merit selection system. Such a connective bill was passed in 2011 and is set to be voted on in 2012. Under SCR1001 the mandatory retirement age would go to 75, but the composition of the state’s merit selection commissions would be altered.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2002

HCR 2022

70 to 75

Approved by House committee

2003

HCR 2019

70 to 75

Approved by House committee

2004

HCR 2038

70 to 75

Died in House committee

2004

SCR 1019

70 to 75

Rejected in Senate committee

2005

HCR 2042

70 to 75

Died in House committee

2006

SCR 1013

70 to 75 for Superior Court judges only

Approved by full Senate. Rejected in House committee.

2007

SCR 1020

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

2008

SCR 1014

70 to 75; Senate confirmation for judges selected through state’s merit selection system

Died in Senate committee

2009

HCR 2016

70 to 75

Died in House committee

2010

SCR 1040

70 to 75

Approved by full Senate. Died in House committee.

2011

SCR 1001

70 to 75; increases to 8 years the term of office for Supreme, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court judges starting in 2013. Alters numerous provisions related to merit selection system.

On November 2012 ballot

Florida

As with Arizona, the Florida interest in changing the mandatory retirement age was connected to changes to judicial selection. Bills introduced in 1994 and 1996 would have raised the limit or allowed the legislature to do so at a later date. The constitutional amendment that appeared on the ballot excluded the reference to the mandatory retirement age.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1994

SJR 468

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

1996

HJR 1415

70 to legislatively set age of at least 72. Alters merit selection system. Alters judicial qualifications commission membership and procedures.

Approved by House Committee

1996

SJR 578

70 to 72; creates single trial court by merging County Courts into Circuit Courts.

Approved by Senate committee

1996

SJR 978

70 to any age set by statue; alters merit selection system and judicial qualifications commission membership and procedures.

Provisions related to retirement age removed; remaining portions put on 1996 ballot.

1999

SJR 758

70 to 75

Approved by Senate committee

Hawaii

In 2005, Hawaii was faced with a Republican Governor (something which had not happened since 1962), a very Democratic legislature, and several members of the state’s courts up against the mandatory retirement age of 70. The state’s senate proposed a standalone constitutional amendment eliminating the retirement age which went down to a nearly 2-1 defeat. A 2008/2009 effort to increase the age to 80 for justices and judges appointed after November 4, 2008 (i.e. after the Republican governor would be term limited out of office) died in a conference committee.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2006

SB 995

Eliminate

Rejected by voters 65%-35%

2008

HB 2344

70 to 72

Died in House committee

2008

SB 3202

70 to 80, but only for judges appointed after November 4, 2008

Died in conference committee

2009

HB 621

70 to end of term in which turn 70

Died in House committee

Indiana

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1999

HB 2042

Eliminates any remaining references to mandatory retirement ages left in statute

Died in House committee

2003

HB 1986

Eliminates any remaining references to mandatory retirement ages left in statute; provides for elimination of merit selection of judges in various counties.

Died in House committee

2011

HB 1266

Eliminates any remaining references to mandatory retirement ages for trial courts left in statute

Signed into law.

2011

SB 463

Eliminates any remaining references to mandatory retirement ages for trial courts left in statute

Signed into law.

Kansas

Kansas had been considering a change to its statutes regarding mandatory judicial retirement at 70 for several years before a 2002 Supreme Court order reset the dynamics. In March of that year, in response to legislative cuts to the courts, the Supreme Court entered an order for emergency surcharges on various court filings, fees, and fines. The language of a 2000 bill was then reintroduced in 2003 to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges, even the Court of Appeals, except the Supreme Court. That version was enacted. It was not until 2010 that the law was further amended to include the Supreme Court in the increase.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1999

HB 2372

Appellate courts: end of term turns 70 to 75; Trial Court: 70 to end of term in which turn 70.

Approved by full House and Senate committee. Died on Senate floor.

2000

SB 650

End of term turns 70 to 75

Died in House committee

2002

HB 2040

End of term turns 70 to 75

2002

HB 2620

Eliminates

Died in House committee

2001

SB 46

End of term turns 70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

2003

HB 2418

Supreme Court: Remain end of term in which turn 70. Court of Appeals and District Court: end of term in which turn 70 to end of term in which turn 75.

Signed into law.

2003

SB 19

End of term turns 70 to 75

Approved by full Senate. Died in House committee.

2008

SB 494

Appellate courts: end of term turns 70 to end of term in which turns 73; Trial Court: 70 to end of term in which turn 75

Died in House committee

2010

HB 2164

Eliminates

Approved by full House. Approved by Senate committee.

2010

SB 68

Supreme Court: end of term turns 70 to end of term in which turns 75

Signed into law.

Louisiana

Louisiana has had two efforts to increase the retirement ages of its judges. The first was in the early 1990s and sought an increase from 70 to 75. It was put up on the ballot in 1995, along with 14 other items, as Amendment 4. It was one of only 2 proposals to lose. The loss can at least in part be attributed to bad timing; the same 1995 ballot included as Amendment 2 term limits for the legislature. It passed overwhelmingly 75%-25%, making the “mere” 62%-38% drubbing Amendment 4 took somewhat remarkable. Thereafter the issue lay dormant for almost a decade until 2003 when a change was proposed to allow judges to serve out the term in which they turned 70. Like its 1995 its counterpart it was one of 14 items on an October ballot. The 2003 effort, however, succeeded.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1993

HB 12

70 to 75

House committee approved

1995

HB 1033

70 to 75

House committee approved

1995

HB 234

70 to 75

Rejected on October 1995 ballot 62%-38%

1995

SB 256

70 to 75

Approved by full Senate and House committee. Replaced with HB 234.

1997

HB 432

70 to 75; increases from 5 to 10 number of years individual practice law before being eligible to run for most judicial offices

Died in House committee

2003

HB 19

70 to end of term in which turn 70

Approved on October 2003 ballot 53%-47%

2003

HB 28

70 to end of term in which turn 70

Approved by full House. Died in Senate committee.

2003

HB 86

70 to 75

Failed to reach 2/3rds vote in House

2003

SB 217

70 to 76

Approved by full Senate. House amended (see HB 19)

Michigan

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2001

HJR 16

70 to 75

Died in House committee

2007

HJR 32

70 to 75

Died in House committee

Massachusetts

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2010

HB 1640

70 to 76

Approved by Joint Judiciary Committee

2011

HB 1826

70 to 76

Approved by Joint Judiciary Committee

Minnesota

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2011

HB 1536

From end of month turns 70 to end of “official year of the state in the first even-numbered year”. Deletes provision that puts word “incumbent” after judge’s name if seeking re-election.

Died in House committee

2011

SB 627

From end of month turns 70 to end of “official year of the state in the first even-numbered year”. Deletes provision that puts word “incumbent” after judge’s name if seeking re-election.

Died in Senate committee

Missouri

Missouri is one of only a handful of states that have a different retirement age for trial and appellate judges. Moreover, municipal judges have a higher retirement age (75) than that of the judges of all the other courts (Circuit, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court = 70).

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2001

SJR 21

70 to 75 for all but municipal judges

Died in Senate committee

2002

HB 1962

75 to 70 for municipal judges

Killed in conference committee

2006

HB 1030

75 to 65 for municipal judges in home rule cities over 400,000

Killed by Senate committee

2006

HB 1826

75 to 65 for municipal judges

Died in House committee

2006

SB 1058

75 to 65 for municipal judges in home rule cities over 400,000

Died in conference committee

2011

HB 111

75 to 78 for municipal court judges

Approved by full House. Killed in Senate committee

2011

HB 889

75 to 78 for municipal court judges

Approved by House committee

North Carolina

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1992

HB 1512

70 to 72 for appellate judges

Signed into law

2003

HB 578

Eliminate

Died in House Committee

2004

HB 1414

Allow District Judges only to serve out term turn 72; put in as section of general appropriations act

Rejected in conference committee

2005

HB 1181

Allow District Judges only to serve out term turn 72

Died in House committee

2005

SB 523

72 to year in which turns 72

Ends nonpartisan elections and replaces with merit selection system.

2005

SB 229

Allow District Judges only to serve out term turn 72

Died in Senate committee

New Jersey

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2000

SCR 66

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

2006

ACR 271

70 to 75

Died in Assembly committee

2006

SCR 109

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

2008

ACR 110

70 to 75

Died in Assembly committee

2008

SCR 59

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

2010

ACR 70

70 to 75

Died in Assembly committee

2010

SCR 123

70 to 75

Died in Senate committee

New York

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2011

AB 8469

End of year turn 70 to end of year turn 80 for Court of Appeals (state’s top court) only

Replaced by SB 5827

2011

SB 4587

End of year turn 70 to end of year turn 74 for all judges except town/village

Approved by full Senate.

2011

SB 5827

end of year turn 70 to end of year turn 80 for Court of Appeals (state’s top court) only

Approved by legislature. Requires re-adoption by 2013-2014 legislature before submission to public vote.

Ohio

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2009

HJR 9

70 to 75; eliminates the authority of the General Assembly to establish courts of conciliation and to reappoint a Supreme Court commission. Amended to require general election judicial races be partisan.

Died in House committee

2010

HJR 16

Eliminate

Died in House committee

2010

SJR 10

70 to 75; eliminates the authority to establish courts of conciliation and to appoint a Supreme Court commission.

Died in Senate committee

2011

HJR 1

70 to 75; eliminates the authority to establish courts of conciliation and to appoint a Supreme Court commission.

On November 2011 ballot

Pennsylvania

Throughout the 1990s several attempts were made to extend judicial terms to the end of the calendar year a judge turned 70.The extension was added onto a bill related to reapportionment, but approved by the voters in a separate vote in May 2001 where it won on a 2-1 vote.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1993

HB 399

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Died in House committee

1994

HB 2954

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Died in House committee

1995

HB 225

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Died in House committee

1995

HB 316

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Died in House committee

1998

HB 114

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Approved and forwarded to 1999/2000 legislature

1999

HB 411

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Replaced by SB 231

1999

SB 231

70 to end of calendar year turn 70

Approved by voters 66%-34% on 2001 ballot.

2010

HB 2657

Eliminate

Died in House committee

South Dakota

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2009

SB 78

70 to 75

Killed in Senate committee

Texas

The 2007 Texas amendment noted below was the first effort in a decade to change the state’s judicial retirement. It was one of 16 ballot items voters cast ballots on in November 2007, all of which passed.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1993

Texas HJR 62

Eliminate

Died in House committee

1997

Texas HJR 15

Eliminate

Died in House committee

2007

Texas HJR 36

Retains legislature’s power to set retirement to age any between 70 and 75. Provides justice or judge who reaches the mandatory age of retirement during the first four years of the justice’s or judge’s term of office to complete the first four years of the justice’s or judge’s current term.

Approved by voters 75%-25%

Virginia

For each of the past 5 years it appeared that Virginia General Assembly would raise the mandatory retirement age for judges and in each one of those years it failed, often at the last minute. Part of the challenge is the statutory placement of the law itself; Virginia Code 51.1-305(B1) not only sets 70 as the mandatory age for judges, but for members of the state Corporation Commission who are also members of the Judicial Retirement System. Trying to craft a bill that does, or does not, also change the retirement provisions for the members of the Commission has been a sticking point. The result has been numerous attempts, including three tie-vote-failures in committee.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1998

HB 557

Exempts juvenile and domestic relations judges in the 27th judicial district from mandatory retirement.

Killed in House committee

2000

SB 151

Eliminates for judges taking office after July 2000.

Approved by full Senate. Killed in House committee.

2007

SB 977

70 to 75 for judges taking office after July 2007

Approved by full Senate. Died in House committee.

2008

HB 783

Original: 70 to 75 for judges taking office after July 2008; Amended: 70 to 73 for judges taking office after July 2008

Killed by full House

2008

SB 19

Original: 70 to 75 for judges taking office after July 2008; Committee amended: 70 to 75, all judges; Floor amended: 70 to 75, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Killed on Senate floor

2008

SB 34

70 to 75

Incorporated into SB 19

2009

SB 856

70 to 75

Killed on Senate floor

2009

HB 1818

70 to 75, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Killed on Senate floor

2010

HB 1189

Senate committee amendment: 70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Killed in conference committee

2010

SB 206

70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Approved by full Senate. Died in House committee.

2010

HB 126

70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Approved by full Senate. Killed on tie vote in House committee.

2010

SB 44

70 to 76 for District Judges only

Incorporated into SB 206

2011

HB 1497

70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Killed on tie vote in House committee

2011

HB 1890

70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Died in House committee

2011

SB 1066

70 to 73, eliminates special provisions related to Corporation Commission.

Approved by full Senate. Killed by House committee

Vermont

When originally proposed in the Vermont Senate, the bill to simply eliminate the retirement age. A committee amendment changed it to a range to be set by the legislature instead. The legislature would later opt for the high end, passing a statute in 2003 to set it as being the end of the calendar year the judge turns 90.

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

1999

PR 4

Original: Eliminate. Amended: End of term turn 70 to any age between 70 and 90 legislature sets.

Approved 64%-36% on November 2002 ballot.

2003

HB 191

Original: Eliminate.

Senate amended: 70 to end of calendar year turn 80. Requires judicial evaluations be given to legislature.

Conference committee/Enacted: 70 to end of calendar year turn 90.

Signed into law.

Washington

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2007

HJR 4209

Eliminates

Approved by House committee

2010

HJR 4216

Eliminates

Died in House committee

2011

HJR 4203

Eliminates

May be carried over into 2012

2011

SJR 8200

End of year turns 70 to end of term turns 70

May be carried over into 2012

2011

SJR 8204

Eliminates

May be carried over into 2012

Wyoming

Year

Bill number

Change from/to

Final status

2010

HJR 4

Eliminates

Approved by full House and Senate committee. Killed by full Senate.

5 thoughts on “Ohio Issue 1: What other states tried to increase or remove their judicial retirement ages and how did they do?

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  5. 2013 saw defeat of NY’s ballot initiative to increase mandatory retirement on the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to age 80 (service dependent on passing physical/mental evaluations prior to each 2 year term). Has there been any analysis of public attitudes on this issue? The Supreme Court would have increased mandatory retirement age from 76 to 80, and from 70 to 80 on Court of Appeals. Is voter age a factor in voting attitudes?

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