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Older Judges on New York Judge Push Back Against Forced Retirement

New York requires its state judges to retire at 70, but the judges may apply for unlimited two-year extensions with medical clearance. Facing significant budget cuts because of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York rejected the applications of 46 older judges seeking to extend their time on the bench. Three older judges did receive approval because they have specialized assignments. The court reported that rejecting the extensions will save the court an estimated $55 million over the next two years.

Ten trial court judges and appellate court judges filed two age discrimination lawsuits against the chief judge and the administrative board who decided to remove the older judges. As the New York Times noted in its reporting, the court system is facing a significant backlog of cases due to the pandemic that will be made worse by fewer judges.

The chief administrative judge defended the decision. He asserted that the alternative result was to lay off 324 nonjudicial employees in an effort to meet Governor Cuomo’s directive to reduce the courts’ budget by $300 million. Several of the judges questioned whether their layoffs would actually save the state money because their pensions will be very close to their actual salaries.