Proposition 6: More judges in courts

By Perry Russom

October 30, 2013 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 5:40 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) We're less than a week away from Election Day and on the ballot are a number of propositions set to amend New York state's constitution.

"You don't have enough judges to get the job done as quickly as we'd like to get it done," said Broome County Judge Martin Smith.

Smith has been serving on the Broome County bench for 23 years. He said the county's current case load is overflowing.

"Across the board, whether it's criminal, civil, family court, it doesn't make any difference," said Smith. "They're exploding.

Across New York, courts have seen a 50 percent increase in their case load with just an 8 percent increase in the number judges.

Proposition 6 is designed to help.

The proposed amendment would raise the mandatory retirement ages for State Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges.

"It allows that judge to remain on the bench, but his or her position is now open for election and a new younger judge is elected," said Smith.

Currently, Court of Appeals Judges can only rule until the age of 70. The amendment would raise the age to 80.

"We've seen many highly qualified judges have to leave the bench because of this age restriction," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D - Endwell.

State Supreme Court Justices currently can serve up to three, two-year terms once they reach 70.

The amendment would increase the number of terms from three to five, again, raising the age to 80.

"Some of these judges bring an enormous amount of experience to their work and we just felt that it as time to really update our approach to judicial services," said Lupardo.

The original mandate on age was made in 1869 when the life expectancy was no where near where it is today.

"Honestly it's time that we recognize that 80 is probably the new 65," said Lupardo.

"As long as you have judges on the bench who are doing their jobs and doing them very well and doing them efficiently, the longer they're on the bench, the more experience they have the better the justice is going to be metered out through the courts," said Martin.

Smith is a County Judge and doesn't have anything at stake in this vote.

This proposition says nothing about increasing the age for county judges.

Smith said if this proposition is successful, the legislature could consider making 80 the age limit for judges statewide.

"You're going to be able to see real quick whether this is working or not working," said Smith.

Here's a look at the other propositions on the ballot:
Prop 1 - Authorize Casino Gaming
Prop 2 - Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities
Prop 3 - Exclusion for Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities
Prop 4 - Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve
Prop 5 - Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals
Prop 6 - Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve