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Politics // Just Thoughts
Bob Jones

Change Mandatory Retirement Law

Mandatory retirement ages 70 to 75 in brown, no age limit in white, some rules in yellow. Vermont Legislative Reference Bureau graphic

One of the worst provisions of our 1959 state constitution is that judges must retire at age 70. The Legislature tried to dump that in 2006, but the amendment failed 58-35 percent.

What were voters thinking? I know. They want us to regress to the level of the 39 states that elect rather than appoint judges.

Richard Pollack’s appointment to the state Supreme Court at 61 means he can only serve nine years. James Duffy might have been super-brilliant on the state Supreme Court at 75 and 80. Losing him at 70 is ridiculous.

And please don’t even give a passing thought to elected judges. Can’t you imagine it? “Hi, I’m hanging judge Roy Bean and I’ll send many more people to prison than my opponent. So please contribute to my campaign. You never know when you’ll need a friend on the bench.”

Putting judge retention up for a popular vote is one of the worst trends in politics.

We give our governors the power of pardoning felons. That usurps the prerogatives of judges and juries. It restores all rights and privileges stripped by a conviction and erases any criminal record.

Linda Lingle pardoned 88 people. She justified that by saying the felons “were arrest-free for years.” Ben Cayetano pardoned 127 felons, including an ex-lawmaker convicted of voter fraud and a man who confessed to 500 burglaries.

Mississippi’s departed governor Haley Barbour pardoned two men serving life sentences for aggravated murder. He’s now on the state court of appeals. Virginia’s exGov. Tim Kaine pardoned three men convicted of raping and killing a man’s wife.

Even if governors’ pardons are solely compassionate or reason-based, why give them the power to wipe out the work of judges and juries? Judges can reverse jury convictions and appeals courts can judge judges.

Governors should not be permitted to erase what the judiciary has written.

I’d say the three non-rail issues on which to consider our votes for mayor this year are: 1) our Third World roads, 2) our declining bus service, 3) those Waikiki street sleepers and “artists.”

Some media (not many) alerted us that the Republicans first proposed mandatory health insurance for all in the ’80s when they hated Bill Clinton’s idea of a single-payer system. That’s right, it was the GOP’s idea! So Mitt Romney installed RomneyCare in Massachusetts. Now he wants to repeal the very mandate he helped invent.

Here’s the New York Daily News take on the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce: She did not want their 6-year-old daughter learning Scientology’s belief that 75 million years ago galactic dictator Xenu brought people to Earth.

How did Alec Baldwin get going with 28-year-old yoga teacher Hilaria Thomas? He walked up to her in a restaurant, took her hand and said, “I must get to know you.” Wow, what a pickup line!

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