Virginia’s legislature may be prepared to increase mandatory judicial retirement age, but only if judicial performance program funded

I’ve mentioned on several occasions the Sisyphean efforts to get an increase to Virginia’s mandatory judicial retirement age, culminating in 22 pieces of legislation in the last 7 years on the subject (18 + 4 this year). This year, however a plan emerged to increase the age but with conditions I noted here related to judicial performance evaluation. It appears those conditions are meeting with at least some approval in committee.

There were effectively 4 bills introduced this session. Two were killed in committee: HB 81 (increase from 70 to 73) and SB 231 (increase from 70 to 73).

The other two have a key difference. HB 279 initially kept the 70 retirement age, but allowed a judge to serve out the term they reached 70. The increase would only go into effect if the state’s Judicial Performance Evaluation Program was funded and implemented. A committee amendment changed that age from end-of-term-turn-70 to age 73. That version passed the House Courts of Justice Committee on 1/27/14 and is pending in an Appropriations subcommittee.

Meanwhile the Senate has approved a “clean” increase; SB 170 simply increases the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 73. The Senate approved it 31-8 on 1/27/14 and sent it to the House Courts of Justice Committee.

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