Longest Serving Judge Won’t Quit

By Laura Fishman

On a recent Friday afternoon, 93-year-old Judge Paul Teilh sat in his office the fourth floor of Santa Clara County’s Hall of Justice building, with his head buried in his hands. The office was almost empty, and his desk was covered with brownies, cake, sprinkled doughnuts, and several gifts. Throughout the day, several people passed through his office wishing him farewell, believing it would be his last day on the bench. However, Teilh was not ready to leave.

While rumors had circulated widely that this would be the last day of his long carreer, Tielh asserted that he will not, in fact, be stepping down from his position. He said that it was never his intention to leave his job, as he still remains passionate about the law and loves working for the superior court of Santa Clara county.

“I’m going to work until the coroner comes for me,” he said.

Teilh began his public service career when he was appointed as Clerk for Santa Clara County in 1955. He was later elected as a Municipal Court judge in 1966, and held the position until 1980, when he was elected to be the county’s Superior Court Judge.

Teilh officially retired from his position in 1986, but soon came to realize how much he missed his service work while retired. He says he became depressed after he left, and quickly returned to working for the county as an assignment judge, where he received an assignment to work on a case for two months. For the past 23 years he has accepted an assignment from the county every two months and has been working eight hours each day.

After more than 50 years of public service work with the county, Teilh says he still only wishes to continue his service. If the judge were to leave his job this month, he said that it would not be his choice and that it would be due to higher authorities asking him to leave.

Teilh would not give reasons behind his suggested departure, saying that the circumstances of his potential leave unveiled a touchy subject. “It’s a sensitive issue,” he said, “and a matter of criminal justice.”

At the end of the workday on July 31, Teilh was given a new assignment. He has since continued to wake up each morning at 6am to go to work, and says he hopes to keep doing so for many more years.


  1. Wonderful story, the Judge has the vigor of a 40 year old.

    Imagine Reed at 90 on the job.  Manible afflictions, gloomy, the guy is 90 right now,  he will be acting with the vigor of a 200 year old turtle at 90 with the manibles to show for it.

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