Bills Include Constitutional Amendment to Ask Voters to Approve Change
A legislative package Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Tim Eustace, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Nancy Pinkin and Joseph Cryan introduced to help deal with a judicial vacancy backlog and modernize New Jersey’s court system by increasing the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
The three bills include a proposed constitutional amendment and two bills to implement the amendment, should it be approved by voters.
The Assembly Judiciary panel chaired by McKeon released bills that:
- ACR186 (McKeon/Pinkin/Eustace/Diegnan) – Propose a constitutional amendment to increase mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. This concurrent resolution proposes an amendment to Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution that would increase the mandatory retirement age for Judges of the Superior Court. Currently, the Constitution requires Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Superior Court to retire at age 70. Under the amendment, mandatory retirement for Superior Court Judges would be increased to age 75. The resolution would not change the retirement age for Supreme Court Justices, which would remain at age 70.
- A3706 (McKeon/Cryan/Diegnan/Eustace) – Increase the statutory mandatory retirement age for Superior Court Judges and Tax Court Judges from 70 to 75. This bill would amend various sections of the statutory law to reflect a new mandatory retirement age of 75 for Judges of the Superior Court and Tax Court Judges based on an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution.
- A3705 Increase the statutory mandatory retirement age for Administrative Law Judges, Workers’ Compensation Judges and county prosecutors from 70 to 75. This bill would amend various sections of the statutory law to reflect a new mandatory retirement age of 75 for Administrative Law Judges, Judges of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and County Prosecutors.
“I always think of judges as having wisdom, and wisdom comes with experience and age,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “Truth be told, at age 70 we’re taking some of our best jurists and forcing them into retirement at an arbitrary and capricious age set many decades ago. It’s time for this change, both to help reduce vacancy backlogs and modernize our courts.”
“These bills lay the ground work for a more sensible court system in the 21st century,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It will be up to the voters, and I trust their judgment in a day and age in which being 70-years-old is a deterrent to nothing and it’s apparent this needs to be done to improve our court system.”
“Forcing judges to retire at age 70 is antiquated and unnecessary in this day and age,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “It’s helped create a vacancy problem in our courts and forced many wise and competent judges to leave the bench too soon, but with these bills, we create a better system to serve New Jersey.”
“The current retirement age doesn’t suit the 21st century and has helped contribute to court backlogs that do nothing to serve the people of New Jersey,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This is a more reasonable approach that should better serve New Jerseyans.”
“New Jersey needs a court system that is responsive and accessible to the people of this state,” said Cryan (D-Union). “We don’t have that right now, partly because of the outdated retirement age of 70. A new mandatory retirement age of 75 is a common sense change.”