Constitutional amendment approved by Hawaii House would let CJ call retired judges back into temporary service

I’ve mentioned previously that Hawaii is considering increasing its mandatory retirement age from 70 to 80. A related effort, SB 650 which is set for a hearing today, would allow the state’s chief justice to call retired judges and justices back into service after retirement.

SB 650 would amend the state’s constitution to add the following to the judicial selection portion of Article VI.

The chief justice may appoint judges who have retired upon attaining the age of seventy years as emeritus judges, permitting the appointed judges to serve as temporary judges in courts no higher than the court level they reached prior to retirement and for terms not to exceed three months per each appointment.

The Judicial branch has submitted testimony in favor of the proposition, arguing “the knowledge and experience of such judges are recognized as valuable resources not only as judicial mentors but also to help provide fair and timely disposition of cases.”, with a suggestion that the language read “emeritus judges and justices” rather than just “judges”. The state’s public defender came out against an earlier version of the bill, which would have let the judges emeritus come back as “judicial mentors“, language that was amended out of the bill.

SB 650 was approved by the full Senate March 6 and by the House Judiciary committee March 13. It is set for a hearing before the House Finance committee later today (April 3).

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