- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Union County circuit judge has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a state law that penalizes judges who want to hold office past age 70.

Judge Michael Landers, who turned 69 last month, wants to serve another six-year term. But his attorney, Gerry Schulze, said that Landers would have to give up the benefits he’s earned and the payments he’s made into the Arkansas Judicial Retirement System over more than a decade on the 13th Judicial Circuit bench.

Circuit judges become vested in their retirement in eight years and are eligible for full retirement benefits after 25 years.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1UvZRAB ), judges have complained about the law for years and have repeatedly lobbied for its removal. Landers’ lawsuit is the first challenge against the Arkansas Judicial Retirement System.

The suit argues that the system is illegal because it adds a requirement to run for judgeship that’s not in the Arkansas Constitution.

“The Legislature is basically making an end run around the constitution by creating a huge financial disadvantage in running for judge,” Schulze said. “It’s time for the constitution to be enforced.”

The lawsuit was assigned to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, who turns 70 in two years.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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