Changes to mandatory judicial retirement ages: Virginia plan now law; Oregon voters will decide in November 2016 on repeal; Massachusetts proposal rejected

Since April’s update on the subject of mandatory judicial retirement age changes there’s been several developments.

Alabama

While the state does not have a retirement age per se, it does prohibit judges from seeking election or being appointed to fill a vacancy if they are above the age of 70. Efforts to raise this to 72 were approved in the House and appeared to have Senate backing before time ran out in the session. Critics argued the constitutional amendment was specifically designed to allow 68 year old Chief Justice Roy Moore to seek one more term in office.

Louisiana

Despite voters in 2014 rejecting a constitutional amendment repealing the mandatory retirement age for most judges in the state, at least some judges will be able to avoid being forced out at 70. Under HB 350 as signed into law, justices of the peace in office as of August 15, 2006 can continue to run for re-election over the age of 70.

Massachusetts

A plan to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges in that state from 70 to 76 was rejected in committee in late April.

North Carolina

Several efforts to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges met with approval in the House but were not taken up by the Senate prior to adjournment. Those bills could come back up in the 2016 session.

Oregon

Voters will get to decide in 2016 whether or not to repeal the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age. Under SJR 4 as approved by the legislature in late June the constitutional provision allowing the legislature to set a retirement age would be stricken.

Virginia

Virginia appellate judges as of today (July 1), will see their mandatory judicial retirement age increase from 70 to 73 under a bill signed into law this spring. However, only those trial judges elected or appointed after July 1, 2015 would get the increase to 73; all other trial judges remain at the mandatory retirement age of 70. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had asked the legislature to amend the bill (HB 1984) to apply the increase to all judges, and the state’s Senate was willing to do so, however the House insisted on the split treatment.

 

Legislation Provisions Status
Alabama HB 15 (Constitutional Amendment) ORIGINAL: Increase maximum age for election or appointment to judicial office to 75 years. AS AMENDED: Increase to 72. Approved by Senate Finance and Taxation Committee 5/28/15. Died on Senate floor.
Alabama SB 15 (Constitutional Amendment) Increase maximum age for election or appointment to judicial office to 75 years. Died in Senate Finance Committee.
Arkansas HB 1202 Provides judges may serve in office until 72 (currently 70) without forfeiting retirement benefits. Approved by Joint Public Retirement Committee 3/16/15. Rejected 49-21-28 not voting-2 voting present (51 yeas required) by full House 3/17/15.
Connecticut HJR 67 (Constitutional Amendment) Allows Probate Court judges reaching the age of 70 to continue in office until the end of their term. Died in Joint Judiciary Committee.
Indiana SB 12 Requires justices of the supreme court and judges of the court of appeals to retire at 80 years of age (currently must retire at 75). Approved by full Senate 1/29/15. Died in House Judiciary Committee.
Kansas HB 2073 Reduces mandatory retirement age for judges of state’s higher courts (currently 75): appellate judges to retire at 65, District Court judges at 70. In House Appropriations Committee. Carried over into 2016 session.
Louisiana HB 350 Provides that law prohibiting those above the age of 70 from running for office of justice of the peace does not apply to those serving as a justice of the peace on or before August 2006 Signed into law by Governor 6/5/15.
Maryland SB 847 (Constitutional Amendment) ORIGINAL: Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. SENATE AMENDED: Increases to 73. HOUSE AMENDED: Judges approaching age 70 must receive governor’s approval for additional 3 years. Approved by full Senate with Senate amendment 3/24/15. Died when House adjourned.
Massachusetts HB 1609 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 76. Rejected by Joint Judiciary Committee 4/30/15.
Michigan HJR 19 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases maximum age limit for election to judgeship from 70 to 75 In House Elections Committee.
Minnesota HB 1332 Allows judge to serve out term in which reaches 70 (currently can only serve to end of month). Died in House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee.
Minnesota SB 1258 Allows judge to serve out term in which reaches 70 (currently can only serve to end of month). Died in Senate Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey ACR 129 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. Combined into ACR 186.
New Jersey ACR 150 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 72. In Assembly Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey ACR 186 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court and Superior Court from 70 to 75. AMENDED: Increase applies to Superior Court only. Approved as amended by Assembly Judiciary Committee 9/22/14. Approved by Pension and Health Benefits Commission 1/30/15.
New Jersey SCR 148 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for Superior Court only from 70 to 75. In Senate Judiciary Committee.
North Carolina HB 50 Increases mandatory retirement age from end of month turns 72 to end of year turns 72. Approved by full House 3/25/15. Carried over into 2016 session.
North Carolina HB 205 Increases mandatory retirement age from end of month turns 72 to end of year turns 75. Approved by House Pensions and Retirement Committee 4/28/15. Carried over into 2016 session.
North Carolina HB 214 Increases mandatory retirement age from end of month turns 72 to end of month turns 75. In House Rules Committee. Carried over into 2016 session.
Oregon SJR 4 (Constitutional Amendment) Repeals provision allowing for the establishment of a mandatory retirement age. Approved by full House 6/23/15. To appear on 2016 ballot.
Pennsylvania HB 90 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. (Second adoption. Approved by 2013/2014 session). Approved by full House 2/10/15. Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 2/17/15. In Senate Appropriations Committee.
Pennsylvania SB 207 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. (Second adoption. Approved by 2013/2014 session). In Senate Judiciary Committee.
Pennsylvania SB 337 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. (Second adoption. Approved by 2013/2014 session). In Senate Judiciary Committee
South Carolina SB 316  Removes age limit above which a judge cannot join the judicial retirement system. Removes requirement that members of judicial retirement system retire by end of calendar year they turn 72. Removes mandatory retirement age for magistrates. In Senate Finance Committee.
Utah HB 137 ORIGINAL: Repeals the mandatory judicial retirement age. AMENDED: Increases mandatory retirement age from 75 to 80. Rejected by full House on 32-41 vote 2/27/2015.
Virginia HB 1984 AS AMENDED: Increases the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 73. Applies to all appellate judges effective July 1, 2015. Applies to trial judges elected or appointed after July 1, 2015. Signed into law by Governor 4/30/15.
Virginia SB 1196 Incorporated into HB 1984.
Virginia SB 1324 Incorporated into SB 1196.
Wyoming HJR 5 (Constitutional Amendment) ORIGINAL: Removes mandatory judicial retirement age of 70. AS AMENDED: Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75.Approved by full House 1/26/15. Rejected by Senate Appropriations Committee 2/23/15.