Abercrombie: Change Retirement Age for Judges

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to change the state law that requires Hawaii judges and justices to retire at age 70.

While he did not specify whether he wanted to increase the mandatory retirement age or eliminate it altogether, Abercrombie said the age limit does not benefit Hawaii.

"As a matter of fact, it's a dead end," he said, after first calling the age limit a barrier and an obstacle. "It deprives us of the opportunity to take full advantage of those who have had a career that has given them some depth of perception, of analysis and capacity that actually deprives us of legal minds and administrative capacity that would be most welcome on the Supreme Court."

The governor made his remarks Tuesday in executive chambers at the Capitol as he announced the nomination of Judge Richard Pollack to fill a vacancy on the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Pollack, 61, has served in the Circuit Court since 2000. The nomination requires state Senate confirmation.

Abercrombie called Pollack "a judge's judge" who has the respect of his colleagues and an impressive record. But he said the age limit is a hindrance to attracting a wider pool of judicial applicants.

"It is extraordinarily difficult, I think, for the Judicial Selection (Commission) now to consider those that might otherwise be not only qualified but highly desirable in terms of an appointment," he said. "I think the sooner that that can get dropped, the better."

The governor said he intends to bring the matter up with the Legislature.

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