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BR judge can remain on bench despite her age, Supreme Court rules

Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled Baton Rouge City Court Judge Johnell Matthews can remain on...
Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled Baton Rouge City Court Judge Johnell Matthews can remain on the bench despite her age.(WAFB)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 2:54 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 2:58 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled Baton Rouge City Court Judge Johnell Matthews can remain on the bench despite her age.

State law prohibits anyone over the age of 70 from running for judge. Matthews was 69 when she qualified to run for the seat, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the vote. When the election was finally held in 2020, she had already turned 70.

In the runoff election, Matthews won with 63 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Whitney Higginbotham Green, filed suit challenging the results of the election due to Matthews’ age. However, a district court dismissed the lawsuit.

The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana later recommended that Matthews be removed from office because she was “constitutionally barred from remaining in judicial office having reached the mandatory retirement.”

However, the Supreme Court Friday said that it would reject the recommendation from the Commission and allow Matthews to serve out her term.

Three of the Supreme Court judges dissented, or disagreed, with the decision.

Mary Olive Pierson, the attorney who represents Matthews, said they are happy to have the issue behind them. “Judge Matthews is extremely pleased with the decision after this long two year ordeal,” Pierson said. “Even the dissenters agreed that she is an excellent judge and serves the public well.”

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