For third year in a row Gavel to Gavel named an ABA Journal Top 100 law blog, please vote to help make it #1!

I just received word that for the third year in a row Gavel to Gavel the blog has been named one of the ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs (law blogs). It is an incredible honor and it (literally) could not have happened without the support of you, the readers. Thanks!

Now that Gavel to Gavel has been selected, voting is open as to where it falls in the News/Courts-related blog category.

Voting takes place from today through December 19 and is open to all at http://www.abajournal.com/blawg100 or just click on the image above.

I also want to thank LexisNexis, which provides the access to the legislative database that is the backbone of Gavel to Gavel.

South Carolina: Judges recognizing or upholding same sex marriages are to be automatically removed from case, denied pay

As the question of whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case, or any case, involving same sex marriage remains pending, South Carolina’s legislature is set to take the question out of the hands of its state’s judges under threat of automatic removal from the case

Under HB 3022 as introduced,  “No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.” and “No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license.”

The court specific elements are two fold. First, state courts would be required to automatically dismiss any case challenging the law and the plaintiffs would be forced to pay the defendants (“A court of this State shall dismiss a legal action challenging a provision of this section and shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person or entity named as a defendant in the legal action.”)

Second, if a judge did strike down the law and/or refuse to dismiss the challenge at the outset, he or she would be “disqualified from office pursuant to Section 19, Article V of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.” That provision reads

The General Assembly shall specify the grounds for disqualification of Justices and judges to sit on certain cases. The General Assembly shall also provide for the temporary appointment of men learned in the law to sit as special Justices and judges when the necessity for such appointment shall arise.

HB 3022 has been filed in the House Judiciary Committee.

Utah Legislative Year in Review: false liens on judges, expansion of judicial performance program

Law

HB 16 Requires any nonconsensual common law document such a lien filed against a judge or public official must be followed by a suit in court to judge the validity of the lien/document. Provides of civil damages against person filing such a false document.

HB 279 Extends sunset date for Office of the Court Administrator to 2018.

HB 296 Provides for the commissioner of public safety to establish annual re-qualification requirements for judges allowed to carry firearms.

HB 325 Expands state’s judicial performance program to Justice Court judges.

HB 404 Increases court security fee from $8 to $13.

SB 93 Requires Office of the Court Administrator establish an internal audit program for courts not of record.

SB 108 Requires an additional $20 filing fee in civil justice court cases if a person files a complaint, petition, answer, or response prepared through the Online Court Assistance Program.

SB 110 Requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide a listing of forms and proceedings available to pro se litigants on the Online Court Assistance Program website.

SB 248 For retention elections, requires judges file declaration of candidacy between April 1 and April 15 of election year.

 

Tennessee Legislative Year in Review: Defining what is a “case” for court statistical purposes, judges carrying guns into courthouses

Law

HB 1520 Removes the requirement that judges must complete Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) training in order to carry a firearm in the discharge of the judge’s official duties.

HB 1640 Extends the Tennessee board of judicial conduct to 2018.

HB 1809 Redefines criminal “case” for court statistics/caseload/weighted caseload purposes.

SB 1546 Terminates the judicial information system advisory committee.

SB 1570 Terminates the Tennessee court information system (TnCIS) steering committee.

SB 1673 Beginning July 1, 2015, reduces, from 50 percent to 40 percent, the amount of collected court fees, fines, costs, and taxes a third – party agent can receive for its fee. Prohibits state funds from being used to pay for any computer system or software changes that may be necessitated by the proposed legislation. Provides any changes shall be funded by fees collected by court clerks which are dedicated funds for computer related expenses of court clerks under existing statute.

South Carolina Legislative Year in Review: veterans courts created and administered by prosecutors

Law

HB 3014 Permits creation of veterans treatment courts in each judicial circuit by the circuit prosecutor to be administered by the prosecutor.

SB 405 Provides judiciary and not state ethics commission to handle complaints against administrative law judges for possible violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct in the same manner as complaints against other judges.

Rhode Island Legislative Year in Review: paying for ecourts, for 7th year in a row modification to state’s merit selection system approved

Law

HB 7259/ SB 2546 Provides for the processing of electronic payments submitted to all courts within the unified judicial system and provides for the implementation of technology fees not to exceed twenty five dollars ($25.00) in order to pay for technology infrastructure and case management system.

HB 7306 /SB 2549 Defines “limited English proficient person” for the purposes of interpreters for legal proceedings as any person whose primary language is not English & who does not have the ability to adequately understand or communicate effectively in English.

HB 8006/ SB 3080 Extends until 2015 law allowing any individual whose name was publicly submitted to the governor by the judicial nominating commission, eligible for subsequent nomination by the governor.

HB 8050 / SB 2488 Provides that only those judges having completed service prior to January 1, 2014 are eligible to, upon reaching the age of sixty-two (62) years, receive during life a sum equal to three-fourths (3/4) of the highest annual salary that the person was receiving during such service.