N.Y.C. Bar Association backs proposal to raise mandatory retirement age to 80

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 8, 2013

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- The New York City Bar Association says it supports a proposal on the state's Nov. 5 ballot to amend the New York Constitution to raise the mandatory retirement age to 80 for state Court of Appeals judges and Supreme Court justices.

The state constitution currently requires all state judges to retire at age 70.

However, judges of the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, and justices of the state's main trial court, the Supreme Court, may serve for up to six years after retirement so long as court administrators certify every two years that the judge's services are necessary to expedite the business of the court, and he or she is mentally and physically able and competent to perform the full duties of the office.

"The City Bar supports Proposal 6, consistent with our longstanding position that the mandatory judicial retirement age, which was enacted in 1869, is outdated," the bar association said in a statement Monday.

"Many individuals who reach the age of 70 have a substantial number of productive years ahead of them. Many states and the federal judiciary permit judges to serve past the age of 70, and New York should as well."

The association argues that raising the retirement age would ease a strained court system -- in particular, permit the transfer of Supreme Court justices to the state's overburdened family courts.

In Pennsylvania, three groups of judges sued over the state's mandatory retirement age, arguing that it is at odds with the state constitution.

Currently, under Pennsylvania's constitution, judges must retire at the end of the year in which they reach age 70. They may continue working as senior judges.

However, as senior judges, they do not receive the same salary or benefits.

Both the state Supreme Court and a federal court dismissed the challenges. The state high court said the judges should pursue an amendment to the constitution if they want to eliminate the age requirement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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