Pay hikes could lead to more judicial retirements in Massachusetts

Judges in Massachusetts are getting a $30,000 pay hike, raising annual pay for trial-level judges to $160,000 on July 1.

But that doesn’t mean the judges will stick around, the Boston Globe reports. Judicial pensions are set at 75 percent of a judge’s highest pay, and judges need work only one day at the higher salary level to get the higher retirement pay.

To qualify for the highest pension, judges usually have to work 15 years and be at least 65 years old, the Republican reported in a story published in November.

At least 30 judges are expected to retire, and their inexperienced replacements could slow down the justice system, the Globe says. Nineteen judges have expressed interest in retirement, and 17 others will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70, according to the chief legal counsel of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Martin Healy.

A judicial nominating commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, reviews applicants for judgeships without seeing the names of the would-be judges. It selects applicants for interviews in the blind process, conducts the interviews, and sends its recommendations to the governor. More than 500 lawyers hoping for judgeships have submitted applications.

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