Proposal to extend mandatory retirement age for judges fails

Proponents said it would have allowed experienced judges to serve longer.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:01 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:36 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An effort to extend the retirement age for Hawaii judges and justices has failed.

The current law requires them to retire at age 70. The new law would have allowed them to serve five more years — to age 75.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said retired judge Shackley Raffetto.

Raffetto is a former chief judge of Maui. He retired before he was ready.

“I was forced to,” Raffetto said.

Raffetto said he was forced to retire because of his age. He and other judges say the longer they serve, the more they can help their community.

“There was a wonderful opportunity to make a … contribution to the welfare of my community,” he said. “I started a drug court and did a lot of other things that I think helped make justice better on Maui.

Even the governor agrees with him.

“A lot of people are really hitting their intellectual prime as judges at age 70 to 74. So why would we want to lose them,” said Governor Josh Green.

Opponents of the measure say they want younger judges “who will bring more energy and fresh thinking to their decision-making, who are open to new ways of solving old problems.”

Senate Bill 992 SD1 was referred to the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

On Thursday afternoon, Chair Rep. David Tarnas said he will not be scheduling it for a hearing.

“It was not a big rallying cry that we needed to pass this,” said Tarnas. “And the last two times that the voters of the state voted on it, they resoundingly defeated the measure to increase the age. So, I did not feel it was necessary.”

Tarnas said in 2014 and in 2006, residents voted against a proposal to change the retirement age from 70 to 80.

“It was rejected soundly by a very large majority of voters in the state, 73% voted against it, 22% voted for it. So, it was a resounding defeat,” Tarnas said. “So, that tells me that the people of Hawaii are comfortable with what we have right now on the books.”

Tarnas says supporters can always try again next year.

Copyright 2023 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.