New York State
Unified Court System

Hon. Jonathan Lippman
Chief Administrative Judge

Contact: David Bookstaver,
Communications Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Release: September 17, 1999

Task Force on Mandatory Retirement of Judges Urges  Constitutional Amendment 

NEW YORK—Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman today released the report of the Task Force on Mandatory Retirement of Judges, which was commissioned by them in 1997 to study the current judicial retirement laws and suggest appropriate reforms.

The Task Force’s report concludes that the State Constitution’s 130-year old provision mandating judicial retirement at age 70 is outdated and harmful to judicial productivity. The Task Force recommends two possible constitutional amendments. The first would extend eligibility for certification to serve beyond the mandatory retirement age from a limited group of judges to all full-time State-paid judges. The second proposal would institute a senior judge system whereby judges with at least 10 years of judicial service could begin applying for senior status, and a reduced workload, at age 62, with new judges appointed or elected in their place.

Chief Judge Kaye said, “Each year many experienced judges are forced to leave the bench upon reaching age 70, often to our great detriment. The Task Force has made a valuable contribution in recommending measures that would both enable the Judiciary to retain these productive judges and ensure opportunities for younger judicial aspirants.”

Chief Administrative Judge Lippman noted, “In an era of rising caseloads and life expectancies, it is imperative that we evaluate the impact of the current judicial retirement laws on the court system. The Task Force has conducted a thorough study of this area and made thoughtful recommendations designed to make better use of experienced judges. The Task Force members, and especially its able Chair, Walter M. Schackman, deserve our gratitude.”

The Task Force’s report is available on the Internet at http://www.courts.state.ny.us or can be obtained by calling (212) 428-2500.