Press Release – To increase the pool of available judges to fill a backlog of vacancies and stabilize the state’s judicial pension system, the mandatory retirement age for judges will be raised by five years under a package of bills sponsored by Assembly Republicans Erik Peterson, Dave Wolfe and Jack Ciattarelli. The legislation won unanimous approval today from the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
“Increasing the age at which judges are mandated to retire will help resolve several pressing issues within the state’s court system,” said Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren, who has advocated for judicial reform for five years. “Some county courtrooms are operating from early morning until late night to deal with a backlog of cases. Raising the retirement age will help reduce the current high rate of vacancies which will benefit the public as their cases will be handled in a more timely manner.
“More importantly, it should help stabilize the judicial pension system, which has a nearly $50 billion deficit. The current retirement age cap made sense decades ago, but people today are living longer and healthier,” he continued. “Many judges aren’t ready to retire at 70. T will allow them to continue in their jobs. At the same time, they will continue paying into the pension system.”
Peterson sponsors A-3706, which raises the mandatory retirement age for Superior Court and Tax Court judges from 70 to 75. The legislation to increase the retirement age for Superior Court judges only takes effect if voters approve a constitutional amendment.
In order to enact A-3706, Wolfe, Ciattarelli and Peterson sponsor ACR-186, which would ask voters to amend the state constitution to increase the mandatory retirement age for Superior Court judges. Voter approval is not needed to raise the age for Tax Court judges.
“Given the opportunity, I’m sure residents will support this reform,” said Wolfe, R-Ocean. “Increasing the retirement age benefits everyone – the judges, litigants awaiting their day in court and the taxpayers who support the pension system. Letting voters decide is government at its best.”
“All things considered, raising the mandatory retirement age for Superior Court Judges to 75 is overdue,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “That’s why this bill has the enthusiastic support of both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.”
The committee also approved Wolfe and Peterson’s bill, A-3705, which increases the mandatory retirement age for Administrative Law judges, Workers’ Compensation judges and county prosecutors from 70 to 75. Assembly Republicans Sean Kean, R-Monmouth, and Chris A. Brown, R-Atlantic, are also bill sponsors.