N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 426

Thursday, July 10, 1947 (Morning session)

tenure of office and I am wondering if you would like to express an opinion on that subject.

JUDGE HAND: Well, yes, but the other side hasn't much chance after all. When you have enjoyed life tenure and irresponsible tenure all your life, with full pay pension as long as you can breathe, I suppose you are rather in favor of that - don't you think?

I don't think I am in a very good position to give an opinion on that, but I will say this - I am serious - I think it does pay for the shortcomings, and there certainly are shortcomings. But I think that there ought to be a way of removing judges more freely than there is. Impeachment is an absurd process. Now, Judge Hatton Summers, whom you probably all have heard of, was for years chairman of the Judiciary Committee of Congress. He had a system which I thought was most admirable, by which - as he said, he had seen impeachments by Congress and he said it was absurd; it wasn't a trial or anything - by which judges could be removed by a bench of judges themselves.

I don't know how you can get rid of the bad man. If you elect him for life, there he is. That is the chance you take. I can only say this, and I am quite serious - I have been a judge for a great many years, and I don't know that I should have wanted to have had the job if I thought that my livelihood depended on whether, when my term of office came up, I could again command the approval of what amounts to the predominant party or my chances with whether my party was successful at the polls.

Perhaps this is a shameful thing to say, but I will say it. I am not confident enough of my own disinterestedness to be sure that that might not weigh with me. To me that is the overwhelming consideration which far outweighs the fact that you get a lot of incompetent men and sometimes men who are knaves, rascals, and also that they may last after they have gotten to their dotage. As to that last, of course, you can have an age limit.

MR. SOMMER: Perhaps we might ask the judge his views with respect to the age of retirement?

JUDGE HAND: No, that is too personal. I think you better make some inquiries around New York.

MR. BROGAN: No, Judge, we'll ask some older judges than you.

JUDGE HAND: Can you find any? I think there are very few.


VICE-CHAIRMAN: Any further questions of Judge Hand?

There being nothing further, may we express our collective thanks to you, Judge. We appreciate your coming here.

JUDGE HAND: Thank you.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: We will recess until two o'clock.

(Recessed at 1 P. M. for luncheon)

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