Week ahead: Tennessee votes on merit selection & drug testing judges; NH votes on IOLTA, judicial performance evaluations & rulemaking; NY Senate looks at mandatory judicial retirement

Legislatures Coming Into Session

NONE

Legislatures Going Out of Session

South Dakota 3/19

Floor/Committee Activity of Note

March 19

Missouri Senate Floor

SB 676 Mandates that any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling shall be unenforceable if based on a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same rights as the parties have under the United States and Missouri constitutions. Approved by Senate General Laws Committee 2/28/12.

March 20

Missouri Senate Rules Committee

SB 546 Imposes campaign contribution limits. For judicial candidates $500, $1000 or $2500 (depending on size of district elected from).

New Hampshire House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee

HB 1395 Declares unconstitutional and revokes supreme court rules amendments that would require attorneys to create or maintain a pooled interest-bearing trust account for clients’ funds nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time, and to remit the interest earned thereby to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Approved by full House 2/15/12. Referred to House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee.

New York Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 4587 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases the mandatory retirement age for all judges and justices of the unified court system, except for justices of town and village courts, from 70 to 74. Permits justices of the supreme court and judges of the court of appeals to continue in service past the mandatory retirement age for three, two year terms. (Note: in New York, “supreme court” is court of general jurisdiction). Carried over from 2011 session.

Tennessee House Judiciary Committee

HB 3282 Allows members of the judicial nominating commission to serve successive terms. Allows solicitor general and employees of the attorney general to serve on the commission. Allows members to participate in meetings by telephone if three or fewer applicants. Allows members continuance in court hearings if commission meeting scheduled.

HJR 753 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides all appellate judges are to be initially selected via merit-based gubernatorial appointment from a panel of qualified candidates submitted by a nominating commission. Subjects selections to legislative confirmation. Provides that, contingent upon a satisfactory job performance evaluation, judges are subject to retention election. Provides all appellate judges be at least thirty-five years of age and a resident of the state for the five-year period immediately preceding appointment. Sets terms of office at eight years.  Approved by House Judiciary, General Subcommittee 3/14/12.

Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 3654 Allows members of the judicial nominating commission to serve successive terms. Allows solicitor general and employees of the attorney general to serve on the commission. Allows members to participate in meetings by telephone if three or fewer applicants. Allows members continuance in court hearings if commission meeting scheduled.

March 21

Hawaii Senate: Joint meeting of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Committee on Judiciary, and Committee on Health

HB 2798 Establishes the Temporary Hawaii Veterans Treatment Court within the First Judicial Circuit Court. Approved as amended by full House 3/6/12.

New Hampshire House Floor

CACR 22 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides that the chief justice shall adopt court rules only with the concurrence of the legislature. Approved by House Committee on Judiciary 2/22/12.

CACR 26 (Constitutional Amendment) Repeals constitutional provision authorizing the chief justice of the supreme court to make rules governing the administration of all the courts.  Approved by House Committee on Judiciary 2/21/12.

New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 334 Changes procedures for judicial performance evaluations. Expands evaluation to include “other nonjudicial branch officers as established by court rule”. Requires judges that fail to achieve satisfactory evaluation have follow-up evaluation 18 months later. Requires all reports prepared on judicial performance identify judges individually. Approved as amended by full House 1/4/12.

Tennessee House Judiciary, General Subcommittee

HB 2432 Requires drug testing of elected officials. Requests Tennessee supreme court to require drug testing of judges.

March 22

March 23