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Judges

Posted 6/1/2020
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Limitation by Age

A common question is: when does a judge reach the constitutional age limit?

Part 2, art. 78  of the New Hampshire Constitution says:

[Art.] 78. [Judges and Sheriffs, When Disqualified by Age.] No person shall hold the office of Judge of any Court, or Judge of Probate, or Sheriff of any county, after he has attained the age of seventy years.

To find out when a specific judge reaches the constitutional age limit, look at the Manual for the General Court. Turn to the State Government section and look for the Judiciary section, usually almost at the end of the book. There you will find all the judges appointed as of the publication of the Redbook with their appointment dates and their limitation by age. This includes supreme, superior, and circuit court judges.

Chief Justices Since 1776 With Dates of Service

Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn resigned effective August 23, 2019 due to the constitutional limitation on age. There was quite a long gap between the resignation of Chief Justice Lynn and the appointment of the current chief, Chief Justice MacDonald. During this period, the Law Library was frequently asked whether this was the longest gap between appointments in supreme court history and whether there have been other long periods without a chief. This was by far the longest period that the supreme court has gone without a chief justice. The next longest was 11 months between the resignation of Simeon Olcott in June 1801 and the appointment of Jeremiah Smith on May 17, 1802. The link below leads to a list of of chief justices since 1776 with their dates of service.

Judicial Oaths of Office

We're often asked for the text of the oath that judges must swear and where a judge's signed commission can be found. The Governor administers the oath of office. The text of the oath is the same as that of most state officials and is found in the New Hampshire Constitution, Part 2, Form of Government, Oaths and Subscriptions Exclusion from Offices, Etc.

The signed oaths are held by the Secretary of State's office. For a copy of the signed oath, the Secretary of State's office asks that you submit your request in writing.