New Louisiana Law Forces Hundreds of Judicial Officials into Retirement

August 12, 2014

Almost 200 justices of the peace and constables around Louisiana are newly barred from seeking re-election this fall, because of a law enacting a mandatory retirement age of 70. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Elbert Guillory during the 2014 session, took effect Aug. 1.

Guillory, R-Opelousas, amended a 2008 rule that created the mandatory retirement age yet allowed officials who were elected before 2006 to continue serving. Guillory's Senate Bill 583 eliminated the grandfather clause.

The mandatory retirement means 17 officials in the New Orleans area may not seek re-election. In the Baton Rouge area, 10 officials are affected.

Guillory could not be reached for comment Friday. But he told LaPolitics, which reported on the law Thursday, that he sponsored the bill at the request of the Louisiana Justices of the Peace and Constables Association.

Not true, association President Connie Moore said. She said her organization had nothing to do with the bill and has been working with the state attorney general's office to consider its options.

"We don't know where it came from. We don't know why it was introduced,'' said Moore, a justice of the peace in St. Tammany Parish.

The bill was put on a fast track and approved in 30 days, with just one vote in opposition in the House, Moore said. Guillory reportedly gave conflicting reasons for sponsoring the measure but in committee said it was initiated at the request of a constituent, Moore said.

The association could fight to have the law repealed next year, Moore said. But the litmus test could be whether voters approve a constitutional amendment this fall to eliminate the mandatory retirement age for judges, she said.