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Former Chief Justice Proposes Raising Age Limit for Judges

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The state's most recently retired Supreme Court Chief Justice, who is now a newly elected state representative, is asking lawmakers to support changing the constitution to permit judges to remain on the court beyond the age of 70.

Former Chief Justice Bob Lynn was himself forced from the bench when he turned 70 last year. Lynn told the House judiciary committee that the constitutionally mandated judicial retirement age of 70 comes from an earlier time.

“The life expectancy in 1784 was considerably less than 70, so it wasn't much of a limitation at the time it was placed in the constitution. Now things are considerably different.”

Lynn's proposal would move the retirement age to 75, but give the Governor and Executive Council the power to force judges to retire at 70 if they deem the judge unfit to remain on the bench.  A separate proposal pending in the senate would remove any age limit for judicial service.

To take effect, the proposals need to clear a high bar to change the state constitution: supermajority support from lawmakers and two-thirds support among voters.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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