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As Marullo preps for swearing in, opponent may present challenge

Marie Williams (Source: NOLA.com) Marie Williams (Source: NOLA.com)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

At 74 years old, Frank Marullo is said to be the oldest judge in Louisiana, and in spite of a new state law that says no judge can serve after 75, Marullo's re-election has now been certified by the Louisiana Secretary of State.

"Judge Marullo can do what he's doing for another 20-something years," said longtime friend and former court commissioner Rudy Gorrell.

Marullo turns 75 on the last day of the year and fully intends to serve another term, but the second-place finisher in the race has asked the Judiciary Commission of the state Supreme Court to step in.

"We have filed it, but I didn't think we had to file it," said Ivan Williams, the campaign manager for Marie Williams.

The Williams campaign was hoping that the secretary of state would not certify Marullo's re-election because of his age, but spokeswoman Meg Casper says the only way to challenge an election is through the courts.

Gorrell has watched the race closely since withdrawing earlier this year. He says the judge may be allowed to serve under the State Constitution of 1974.

"I think if the judge says he's under the 74 rather than the [1921] constitution, I finish out my term," said Gorrell.

Regardless of what the secretary of state, the court or the challengers might do, sources say Marullo has a trump card he's ready to play. He may file an age discrimination suit in federal court.

"I believe the judges are the only ones that have an age cap on it," Gorrell said. "Everyone else can run, whatever their age may be."

Marullo says he will schedule his swearing-in as soon as he receives the certified results. and that could set the stage for a court fight over his  re-election.

"I believe the courts will say the people have spoken, let him sit," Gorrell said. "Usually the will of the people will supersede."

If the challengers succeed, there could be an entirely new election, but after 40 years on the bench, Marullo's made it clear that he won't go down without a fight.

Marullo has been on the Orleans Criminal Court bench since 1974.

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