Six Pennsylvania judges including Westmoreland County Family Court's John Driscoll are suing the people of Pennsylvania ("State's Top Court to Rule on Judges' Retirement," April 9). At first glance, it may only seem "fair" that judges not be forced to retire at age 70, but the truth is judges have no accountability -- especially those in confidential settings such as family and juvenile court. Worse, their decisions impact families and kids -- most of whom have no possibility of recourse.
The suit asserts that "cognitive decline has decreased remarkably in recent years." False. If your legal case is being tried by a judge over the age of 70, there's a one in seven chance that he or she has symptomatic dementia. Here's why it matters: For all practical purposes, Pennsylvania has no right of recusal. If you stand before an incompetent, biased or demented judge, the only one who can determine that judge's fitness to hear your case is the judge in question. As a result, recusal in Pennsylvania is extremely rare. Once a judge declines your request for recusal, how do you think you'll fare before him or her?
If you file a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Board, odds are 10-to-1 that nothing will be done. Yet, even in the extremely rare event a judge is found to be incompetent your case is not affected by the finding.
Many of these judges will continue to work as senior judges, making more than $500 per day in addition to their state pensions. These judges are costing the taxpayers by waging a suit that has been fought and lost several times before. Shame on them.