Mixed Reaction on Proposal Raising Judges' Retirement Age

One of the six ballot initiatives New Yorkers will see on November 5th calls for raising the retirement age of some judges to 80.

Currently, New York judges are required to retire at 70 if they serve on the Court of Appeals. For the State Supreme Court, judges can stay until 76, if they are deemed competent and it’s demonstrated that they are needed on the bench.

Vince Bonventre, an Albany Law School professor and expert on the state’s court system, called the current mandatory retirement age “moronic,” arguing that judges with more experience tend to be stronger.   

“Our best judges literally are at their best when they are 70 years old, and yet we force them to retire,” Bonventre said. "That’s crazy.”

Most judges in New York agree. But some are against the proposal, including the reform group Citizens Union, which is advising a "no" vote. Citizens Union executive director Dick Dadey says the amendment is poorly structured and unequal because it does not apply to all judges in the state.

“If we want to increase the age for all judges in New York State then we should do it for all, and not just for a very small segment of them,” Dadey said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has in the past said he does not support the amendment, more recently said he does not have a position.

If the proposal fails, several judges would have to retire from the state’s highest court.