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Louisiana’s Longest Sitting Judge Ordered Off Bench by Supreme Court
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Louisiana judge ordered off bench

Summary: Louisiana’s longest sitting judge has been ordered off the bench regarding a technicality about his age.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,” is advice Judge Frank Marullo is taking too heart. As the longest sitting judge in Louisiana, recently winning in a landslide victory for the spot, he certainly has inspired volleys of criticism, many claiming he is too lenient. Nevertheless, it is based on a technicality that he has been recently ordered to step down from his seat at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

  
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Marullo was already pushing things, considering that Louisiana’s constitution prohibits judges over 70 from sitting, and he was 74 when he was last sworn in. But that law was enacted after he was first sworn in, when the age of retirement was set at 75. He really pushed things when he was to be sworn in on Jan. 1, 2015: he would be a day older than 75 at that point. And so though he won the election at age 74, he would be too old to serve upon being sworn in. That is why he arranged to be sworn in not on Jan. 1, but Dec. 19.

This inspired the Louisiana Supreme Court to issue an emergency interim disqualification 5 p.m. Friday. The order, which could only come from the Supreme Court, stated that he was “hereby disqualified from exercising any judicial function during the pendency of further proceedings in this matter.” He will not preside, but he will still be paid.

Marullo responded by filing an opposition to the court order, asking for additional time to supplement his response, which was denied him. Retired judge Dennis Waldron will sit as ad hoc judge in the meantime.

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Marullo has been cutting it close. During his reelection November, he defeated a lawsuit by three voters challenging his eligibility to run. Considering his birthday is Dec. 31, the dispute regards a mere 24 hours. Some voters complain that the judge of all people should respect the law, even the technicalities of it.

“It was inevitable,” Marullo would face suspension, said his opponent from the last election, Graham Bosworth. “The constitution was pretty clear on it. My expectation for whatever it’s worth is that they’ll remove him. We just don’t know how long that will take.”



The recommendation claimed Marullo’s conduct was a “substantial threat of serious harm to the public or the administration of justice by eroding the public’s confidence in the judiciary and its respect for the rule of law.”

Marullo’s “substantial threat” by being too old by a day, includes that he has “consistently expressed his intention to remain in office…resulting in widespread media attention.”

So he is known for his perseverance. Perhaps being notorious for something else would constitute more of a “substantial threat”?

Is Judge Marullo disgracing the legal system?

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