SHOULD FEDERAL JUDGES HAVE LIFE TERMS EVEN IF IT MEANS PRESIDING OVER TRIALS AT THE AGE OF 104?

Recently the oldest serving Federal Judge in America died at the age of 104; he often said he enjoyed his work but didn’t like long trials. It’s unclear if he’s diligently continuing work in his Kansas Courtroom from the other side thru seances, but in all likelihood his constitutionally defined life appointment terminated upon his death.


Life terms of Federal Judges help protect the integrity of the judiciary in Tampa Bay, Florida.
U.S. Supreme Court, 1925
Though private employers might think twice before hiring someone who is a mere 67 years old; that’s the average age of the members of our Supreme Court. 
Yet those youthful enough to remember a band known as the Rolling Stones might be surprised to find that the average age of Mick Jagger’s band is 69, two years older than the Court. Both groups seem to be working hard into old age producing plenty of briefs if not hits.


As the average age of Federal District and Appeal Judges increases Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers may find that Federal Judges sitting on the case would never be tolerated at a law firm arguing the case. Often the huge backload of pending cases in Florida State and Federal Courts is reduced by experienced senior Judges who handle their assigned large caseloads with success.

The constitutional life term of Federal Judges was instituted to protect the Judiciary from the executive and legislative branches. And it has succeeded, but for an occasional imprudent threat of impeachment when a particular congressman disagrees with a Federal decision now and then. 
Yet wouldn’t a long term of ten years or even twenty years accomplish the same objective? Or would the limit of time have the unsavory effect of making decisions seem political, a mockery of a fair court, masking even the fairest Judge’s decisions with a cloak of selfishness. 

Compare the short term of Federal prosecutors in the Justice Department to the lifetime appointments enjoyed by Federal Judges. 

In the Middle District of Florida in Tampa it’s not unusual for a new United States Attorney to be appointed by the President every three years or so. The idea is that the office is more significant than the person holding office and that all of us are better served if the power of that office is not vested in any individual for too long. But that power, the power to prosecute is much more destructive and powerful than a Judge’s power, which ultimately rests upon mere words which others are relied upon to obey. 
Perhaps the framers of our constitution, having successfully battled a King, were wise in freeing our Federal Courts with life terms for its Judges. 



ARE SENIOR JUDGES FIT TO SEEK SERVICE RENEWAL IN TAMPA BAY, CLEARWATER & PINELLAS

The Florida Bar is seeking information on senior judges seeking service renewal. Senior judges are very experienced semi-retired judges who no longer want to work full time though some of them work longer hours than many of our regular judges. If your Judge is working too hard on your criminal case in Tampa Bay call your favorite Pinellas Criminal Defense Attorney.
Here is the notice which I received from the Florida Bar Association concerning judges in the Tampa Bay area which includes Pinellas County and Clearwater:
The following senior judges’ current service will expire on September 30, and they are seeking service renewal.

Any persons having knowledge bearing upon the fitness or qualifications of any of the senior judges on this list to continue service as a senior judge should send, on or before April 16, written comments to Thomas D. Hall, Clerk, Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee 32399, or by email to seniorjudge@flcourts.org, or by telephone to the chair of the appropriate review board as noted.
Review Board Two (Judge Darryl C. Casanueva, chair, (813) 272-3430): Horace A. Andrews, Robert E. Beach, Charles T. Carlton, James R. Case, Wayne L. Cobb, Stephen L. Dakan, Nancy K. Donnellan, Donald C. Evans, Crockett Farnell, Judith J. Flanders, Barbara C. Fleischer, Marion L. Fleming, Thomas M. Gallen, Frank A. Gomez, Oliver L. Green, Ronald A. Herring, Anne H. Kaylor, David L. Levy, Randall G. McDonald, Daniel R. Monaco, Cecelia M. Moore, J. Rogers Padgett, Raul C. Palomino, Jr., Richard G. Prince, Harry M. Rapkin, Thomas S. Reese, E. J. Salcines, Jack R. Schoonover, Radford W. Smith, Hugh E. Starnes, Ralph Steinberg, James R. Thompson, Wayne S. Timmerman, Ray E. Ulmer, Jr., and David Seth Walker.
Florida Supreme Court Justice (Chief Justice Charles T. Canady, chair, (850) 410-8092): James E. Alderman and Ben F. Overton.

Raphael, The Judgment of Solomon, 1518

Seeing some of these names brings back many great memories from trials, court hearings, motions and jury deliberations, while I served as a prosecutor and young defense counsel; if you need a seasoned Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer, I’m learning more every day.  I’m glad to see that some of my favorite Judges including Overton, Andrews, Beach, Case, Farnell, Fleischer, Fleming, Padgett, Smith, Ulmer and Walker are still going strong and want to continue. Though the foreclosure process seems to have tainted other senior judges in Florida. I hope they’ll be given service renewal to ease the workload of other judges, speed up the criminal court system and mostly to keep them all out of trouble by keeping them on the bench.