2011 Year in Review: Increasing mandatory retirement ages for judges

An aging population is forcing legislators to re-examine the logic behind mandatory retirement ages for judges. In 2011, several states stood out on this score, lead chiefly by Ohio. There, voters were given the chance to increase the mandatory retirement age from the end of the term the judge turns 70 to the end of the term in which the judge turns 75 (prior posts here, here, and here). While the proposal lost, as I noted at the time the voting data seemed to suggest not so much a rejection of the age increase as an instance of the measure swept up in a “vote no on everything” fervor on that particular balloting day.

Meanwhile, Arizona moved to put an increase on its ballot in 2012. This provision was added at the last minute as a “sweetener” (along with extended terms) to a larger bill that would make large scale changes to the way the state’s judiciary is selected/elected/appointed.

A more focused effort was New York’s SB 5827, which would extend retirement, but only for the state’s top court, from the end of the year a judge turns 70 to end the calendar years the judge turns 80. The measure requires re-adoption by 2013-2014 legislature before submission to public vote.

Finally Indiana HB 1266 repealed or otherwise removed all provisions that establish a mandatory retirement age for superior court and county court judges.

Other bills that advanced in 2011 included:
  • Missouri HB 111 Increases from 75 to 78 mandatory retirement age for municipal judges. Approved by House, defeated in Senate.
  • Virginia HB 1497 / SB 1066 Increases from 70 to 73 mandatory retirement age for municipal judges. Approved by Senate, defeated in House