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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Save the Geezers!

If a judge can't be too old, can he or she be too young?

How about too stupid or insane?

OK, stupidity and insanity haven't disqualified too many public officeholders, but that's not why I'm bringing this up. I'm wondering about this because a rather odd lawsuit was filed recently in federal court in Chicago challenging a requirement that Illinois judges retire at the end of terms after they've reached the age of 75.

I'll get to the legal basis for this in a minute. First, though, let's ponder the really inexplicable part of this: why would a couple of voters go to court to protect their right to vote for elderly judges?

Oh sure, I could pretend to be a real journalist and make some calls to find out what they're saying the reason is, but you know they'd just lie to me. (There's also the important negative that this would require some effort on my part.)

I suppose the plaintiffs could be related to a judicial geezer and don't want him around the house. Or maybe they want judges in office who will be tough on kids invading other people's lawns.

Think about this. This pair of plaintiffs actually went out and hired a lawyer (or maybe the lawyer hired them) to spend the time and money suing to keep old judges on the bench.

I'm not saying older judges who are perfectly competent shouldn't be on the bench. I just don't understand why someone would pick this as a crusade.

Maybe they feel guilty for mistreating their parents. Litigation can be therapeutic.

The legal basis for the suit - at least the one they claim to have - has nothing to do with civil rights or equal protection. Instead, it's "the right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice."

Which, if taken to its oh-so-logical conclusion, means you should be able to vote for a 10-year-old or a stupid or insane person or all of the above.

OK, there's nothing about insanity or stupidity in the lawsuit, but here's what it does say: "Illinois law provides that a judicial office is not and cannot become vacant until plaintiffs and others similarly situated have exercised their right to vote for or against the candidate of their choice .... regardless of the judge's age...."

I'm picturing Judge Doogie Howser.

My favorite part of the lawsuit, though, was a passage from the Illinois law it was challenging:

"(I)f one of the following events occurs 92 or more days before a general primary election at which judges are to be nominated, the term of an incumbent judge will expire on the first Monday in December of the next even-number year:

"(1) the judge dies."

Yep. Until December of an even-numbered year, the corpse presides.

That's so Chicago.

LUST IS WEIRD. As I've pointed out time and again, sexual harassment comes in many strange forms.

This is from a Los Angeles Superior Court complaint against a TV production company by a female production manager (not an actress):

"The sexual harassment that the plaintiff was subjected to ... consists of the following: In the afternoon of February 15, 2008 defendants ... instructed plaintiff to come to a parking lot area ... for the purposes of taking some photographs. Despite plaintiff's protestations, defendants ... instructed plaintiff to allow a number of photographs of her person to be taken. Plaintiff was requested to pose in various manners.... Shortly after that photographic session was over, plaintiff was advised by defendants ... that she had been photographed with a special camera which contained an infrared lens which can photograph a person's body through her clothes."

And apparently she believed them.

I'm betting one of those guys used to buy those x-ray vision glasses in the comic book ads.

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