Wednesday October 17, 2012

BOSTON -- The chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts announced Tuesday that he will become a senior judge next year, creating a vacancy that will give the district court a new, additional judge.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Judge Mark Wolf said he will continue to provide "substantial service."

Federal law allows that a judge who is at least 65 and has served for at least 15 years can continue in regular active service, become a senior judge or retire and receive his last salary for life. Senior judges often have reduced caseloads and are allowed to choose which cases they hear.

Wolf said he will continue to take a large criminal caseload, but will slightly reduce his civil caseload.

"I became a judge when I was 38 years old, and I love mentoring younger people the way my colleagues taught me," Wolf told The Associated Press. "The fact that I can continue to be a judge and doing substantially what I do now and open up an opportunity for a younger person, I think is very much in the public interest."

President Ronald Reagan nominated Wolf to the court in 1985. His seven-year term as chief judge ends on Dec. 31. Wolf said he will be 66 by Jan. 1, when he will begin his status as a senior judge. Judge Patti Saris will become the next chief judge.

Wolf has issued rulings in many high-profile cases during his years on the bench, including a decision last month ordering the state Department of Correction to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a convicted murderer.


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