- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana’s longest-serving judge is stepping down and ending his fight to return to the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court bench at an age beyond the limit set by the state constitution.

Frank Marullo has submitted his resignation papers after four decades as a judge, according to The New Orleans Advocate (https://bit.ly/1QZN7lE ).

He submitted his resignation in a letter dated Nov. 30 to state officials, according to the newspaper. Marullo plans to retire on Dec. 31, his 76th birthday.

Marullo was first appointed to the bench by Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1974 and then later elected to numerous terms. But he has not taken his seat on the bench since February when the Louisiana Supreme Court abruptly suspended him pending a ruling on whether he was too old to serve. Marullo has pleaded his case with the state Judiciary Commission since then.

“I have decided that the onerous litigation in regard to my remaining on the bench is too burdensome for the citizens to bear; therefore, I plan to retire,” he wrote.

Marullo’s resignation sets the stage for what could be a crowded race for a rare vacant seat in a court where no incumbent has lost a re-election bid since the early 1970s.

The state constitution sets a mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges but allows them to serve out the remainder of their term if they reach that age while in office. State voters upheld that age cap a year ago, but on the same ballot, Marullo, then 74, was re-elected with a bare majority over two challengers.

Marullo had argued that he fell under an older, 1921 version of the constitution that was in effect when he assumed his seat in 1974. At the time, the constitution set a mandatory retirement age of 75 for state judges, with no provision for serving out a term after they hit that age.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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