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Sun Gazette: Del. Hope Aims to Increase Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges Print


Created:  Tuesday, January 17, 2012  12:00 PM

The state government's mandatory retirement age for judges would be raised from 70 to 73 under legislation being patroned by Del. Patrick Hope.

"Mandatory judicial retirement is based on the outdated assumption that increasing age carries with it declining intellectual ability," Hope (D-47th) told the Sun Gazette. "The truth is, the legislature need to do a better job of making sure judges on the bench are competent, and not rely on an artificial trigger that really has nothing to do with performance."

Judges on Virginia's courts are "elected" by the General Assembly for terms of six or eight years, depending on the court. But judges must depart the bench when they reach the mandated reirement age.

The mandatory retirement age hit Arlington's judicial ranks a year ago, when Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick was forced to retire upon turning 70. Kendrick had no desire to retire; in fact, he continues to serve as a substitute judge in courtrooms across Northern Virginia.

The federal judiciary has no retirement age for most of its judges. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens – an Arlington resident – served past his 90th birthday before retiring in mid-2010. U.S. District Court Senior Judge Wesley Brown continues to hear cases in Kansas at age 104.