Are You Too Old To Be a Judge In Michigan?
Did you know in Michigan you cannot run for election to be judge if you are 70years or older?
Well one Judge is not going to take that sitting down, after walking up a flight of stairs. As being reported by the Lansing State Journal, Judge Peter O'Connell, 67 years old, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan challenging Michigan ban on judges over the age of 70 and the fact they cannot seek election or re-election.
Judge O’Connell is quoted in the article stating:
"This case is about age discrimination, age discrimination is morally, ethically and legally wrong. This case is my attempt to get attention to the state of Michigan's discriminatory policy against senior judges and justices."
In 1955 Michigan starting to use the age restriction for judges, although I cannot find a reason why. I have some thoughts about why there should be an age limit, do you?
One of my concerns is as people age we tend to lose cognitive skills. How are we to know how sharp the mind of an aging judge is? I understand that a minority of people as they age remain extremely sharp far into their elderly years but what about those who do not?
Judges in Michigan are elected by the people. How many people actually know the Judge they are voting for, their behavior in court and their biases in interpreting and applying the law. Unless we have had contact in court with these Judges, most of us have no knowledge of these them. Which means judges that are failing cognitively would not necessarily be voted out of the seat.
My other concern is generational. A lot of people believe in the experiences they have from childhood into adulthood. Judges included. Are they stuck in their thoughts/beliefs from the 1970’s or 1980’s? For example, a Family Court Judge believing that fathers do not play a large role in raising children and grant full custody to the mothers. In today’s society, many divorced fathers are very actively involved in raising their children; some even more than the mothers.
If a judge’s thoughts are stuck in the 70’s and 80’s they will be biased against fathers today in their rulings.
The Live with Renk show, airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.
Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.