Many states have statutorily imposed deadlines for judges to render their decisions under penalty of some sort of punishment or withholding of salary. Minnesota is no exception. Minnesota Statutes 546.27 provides
all questions of fact and law, and all motions and matters submitted to a judge for a decision in trial and appellate matters, shall be disposed of and the decision filed with the court administrator within 90 days after such submission, unless sickness or casualty shall prevent, or the time be extended by written consent of the parties. No part of the salary of any judge shall be paid unless the voucher therefor be accompanied by a certificate of the judge that there has been full compliance with the requirements of this section.
Also under 546.27, the 90 day rule is reduced to a 15 day rule in certain cases.
The state’s Board of Judicial Standards is required to review annually a judge’s compliance with the 90 day rule and is to be notified on a continuing basis if a judge has exceeded the deadlines. The board shall then notify the commissioner of management and budget, who would then stop paying the judge. The board may decline to issue such a notification if they find “a judge has compelling reasons for noncompliance.”
HB 1298 of 2011, however, would change this system into a more step-progressive approach:
- The Board of Judicial Standards would review judge’s compliance monthly, not annually
- References to notifying the commissioner of management and budget are removed
- A first infraction would result in notification to the chief judge of the judicial district
- A second infraction within 5 years would result in the chief judge and the judge who committed the infraction developing a written plan with the judge to remedy the current non-compliance and avoid future ones. A failure to comply with the plan would be sent to the Board by the chief judge.
- A third infraction within 5 years of the first would result in the Board taking immediate action without referral to the chief judge (the chief judge would be notified).
The bill is currently pending in the House Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee.