Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year. Many of the seats, which carry with them six-year terms, are opening up because judges either want to retire for the obvious reasons — to practice law, be with their families, play golf or fish — or because they have reached the required retirement age of 70.
"We're seeing more open seats than we're used to, but it's due mainly to retirement. But what we're all waiting to see is how many judges that are age-limited qualify to run anyway," said a source. "A few of them have been talking about it."
If a judge turns 70 while in office, they are allowed to continue serving but not seek re-election. The restriction applies to those wishing to run as well. Lawmakers, however, passed HB 96 by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, during this year's session to let voters decide whether the ban should be overturned.
"If voters approve the constitutional amendment on the November ballot, and it takes effect as planned before the swearing-in in January, then the judges at or above the retirement age who want to run again may be able to do so," said an attorney. "What they're trying to figure out is who has the standing to bring the challenge. Maybe no one will need to. It's unclear right now."