Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 7

This seventh and final installment looks at efforts to change state constitutional grants of rulemaking authority to courts of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or judicial councils.

My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here.

South Dakota to Wyoming below the fold.

South Dakota

The Supreme Court shall have general superintending powers over all courts and may make rules of practice and procedure and rules governing the administration of all courts. The Supreme Court by rule shall govern terms of courts, admission to the bar, and discipline of members of the bar. These rules may be changed by the Legislature. (Art. V, Sec. 12)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Tennessee

The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.

Texas

(a) The Supreme Court is responsible for the efficient administration of the judicial branch and shall promulgate rules of administration not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.
(b) The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules of civil procedure for all courts not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.
(c) The legislature may delegate to the Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals the power to promulgate such other rules as may be prescribed by law or this Constitution, subject to such limitations and procedures as may be provided by law.
(d) Notwithstanding Section 1, Article II, of this constitution and any other provision of this constitution, if the supreme court does not act on a motion for rehearing before the 180th day after the date on which the motion is filed, the motion is denied. Art. 5, Sec. 31

HJR 55 of 1997: Inserted paragraph (d) regarding 180 day deadlines for motion for rehearing. Approved by 77% of voters as Proposition 12 in November 1997.

HJR 54 of 1999 & HJR 60 of 2001: Repeal of the Supreme Court’s power under paragraph (b) to set rules of civil procedure. The 1999 version was approved by the House Judicial Affairs Committee but died on the House floor. The 2001 version was approved by the full House but died in the Senate Jurisprudence committee.

Utah

The Supreme Court shall adopt rules of procedure and evidence to be used in the courts of the state and shall by rule manage the appellate process. The Legislature may amend the Rules of Procedure and Evidence adopted by the Supreme Court upon a vote of two-thirds of all members of both houses of the Legislature. Except as otherwise provided by this constitution, the Supreme Court by rule may authorize retired justices and judges and judges pro tempore to perform any judicial duties. Judges pro tempore shall be citizens of the United States, Utah residents, and admitted to practice law in Utah. The Supreme Court by rule shall govern the practice of law, including admission to practice law and the conduct and discipline of persons admitted to practice law. (Art. VIII, Sec. 4)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Vermont

The Supreme Court shall make and promulgate rules governing the administration of all courts, and shall make and promulgate rules governing practice and procedure in civil and criminal cases in all courts. Any rule adopted by the Supreme Court may be revised by the General Assembly. (Ch. II, Sec. 37)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Virginia

The Supreme Court shall have the authority to make rules governing the course of appeals and the practice and procedures to be used in the courts of the Commonwealth, but such rules shall not be in conflict with the general law as the same shall, from time to time, be established by the General Assembly. (Art. VI, Sec. 5)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Washington

The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.

West Virginia

The [supreme court of appeals] shall have power to promulgate rules for all cases and proceedings, civil and criminal, for all of the courts of the state relating to writs, warrants, process, practice and procedure, which shall have the force and effect of law. (Art. VIII, Sec. 3)

Aside from proposed grammatical changes (“shall have power” vs. “has power”) no effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Wisconsin

The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system and shall exercise this administrative authority pursuant to procedures adopted by the supreme court. (Art. VII, Sec. 4(3))

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.

Wyoming

The supreme court shall have general appellate jurisdiction, co-extensive with the state, in both civil and criminal causes, and shall have a general superintending control over all inferior courts, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by law. (Art. 5, Sec. 2)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.