House Bill Seeks To Protect Magistrate Judges From Firing

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 9:39am

A House panel voted Wednesday to prohibit city council members from firing lay judges who oversee lower court cases.

State Rep. John Kavanaugh said the bill would require magistrates run for reelection every four years, much like higher court judges and it would protect magistrates from being fired by city councilors "without cause."

"There can be all sorts of petty reasons that three people can put together and just say 'We don't want this person any more," Kavanaugh said. "It happens. Not that much. But it happens."

His bill drew opposition from lobbyists for cities and towns around the state, especially in smaller communities where magistrates work on a volunteer basis and may find running for office too steep a barrier to serve.

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