One of the effects of the General Assembly’s repeated refusal to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges is to discourage experienced attorneys from seeking seats on the bench, laments Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke.
Speaking to the Roanoke Bar Association Tuesday, Edwards noted the House of Delegates has regularly shot down bills he’s introduced to raise the judge retirement age from age 70 to 75 or 73.
Edwards argued it would save money for the state retirement fund and would encourage judicial candidates with more years of law practice.
“The Supreme Court wants it. They lobbied heavily for it,” Edwards said, adding, “Justice Koontz wants it, badly.” Justice Lawrence Koontz will have to retire this year under the current mandatory retirement age.
Edwards said the combination of reduced retirement credits and the early mandatory retirement age discourages lawyers from seeking judgeships later in their careers. “What you’re doing is making it less desirable for really fine lawyers who might be wonderful judges – say in their mid-50’s,” Edwards said. “I think we need to reverse that.”
By Peter Vieth