Judge, Sheriff Age Limits

Citizens Count Editor

According to the New Hampshire Constitution, judges and sheriffs are barred from holding office after they reach age 70.

When it comes to judges, that policy is echoed in 19 other states, which impose an age limit of 70 on judges. A further 13 states have higher age limits, ranging from 72 to 90. The remaining states do not require judges to retire at a certain age. 

There are no age limits for federal judges.

New Hampshire is the only state with a mandatory retirement age specifically for sherrifs, but many other states or municipalities impose mandatory retirement ages on law enforcement officials in general. When these are imposed, they're often for an even lower age than 70, with many governments imposing a limit of 50 or 65. 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

Those in favor of keeping age limits argue that the law protects New Hampshire from judges whose best years may be behind them.  Given the importance of judges, the state has a particular interest in ensuring that judges are mentally and physically up to the task.

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

Those in favor of removing age limits note that life expectancies have increased since the New Hampshire Constitution was drafted. 

Older judges also bring the benefit of greater experience.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Tabled in the Senate

Constitutional amendment raising the retirement age for judges to 75.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment ending the age limit for judges and sheriffs.

Killed in the House

Repeals the age limit for sheriffs.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment ending the age limit for sheriffs

Killed in the House

Permitting retired judges over age 70 to serve on the bench in some circumstances

Should NH keep the age limit for judges and/or sherriffs?

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Issue Status

This year, the New Hampshire Senate killed a constitutional amendment that would have raised the age limit for judges to 75.

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