After 12 years on the Ventura County bench, Superior Court Judge James McNally is hanging up his black robe.
The 60-year-old jurist learned Tuesday that he has been granted an early retirement for medical reasons.
Diagnosed with polio as a teen-ager, he is suffering from Post Polio Syndrome, McNally said in an interview. He also has some coronary problems, he said.
"My physicians were telling me years ago that this is not a good idea," the affable judge said of his high-stress job.
But even McNally was surprised Tuesday, when officials from the state Commission on Judicial Performance phoned to give him the good news about his request for early retirement, made in September.
The only problem is his retirement went into effect March 6. McNally has heard more than a 100 criminal court matters since then.
He said he does not know what will happen to those cases, although most were short proceedings that could be reheard. His departure leaves two vacancies on the 15-seat Superior Court.
The native Iowan has been known as a conservative on fiscal matters but a liberal when it comes to upholding the Constitution. He moved to Ventura County after his first wife died in a freeway accident in 1968.
McNally said he plans to remain in the county but will do some traveling. He has been studying French for about a year, and hopes to go to France to test his skills in the language.