Florida House votes tomorrow on term limits for appellate judges, over a dozen floor amendments filed by same representative who tried to create a “Scalia rule” in 2016

A plan to impose term limits on Florida’s appellate judges is set for a full House vote tomorrow and one House member has introduced over a dozen amendments to the bill.

HJR 1 as filed limits appellate judges (Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal) to 12 consecutive years in office and prohibits them from being reappointed for 1 year after leaving office. It is specifically not retroactive and does not count any prior years of service on a court against a judge (“time served by the justice or district court judge in that office prior to January 9, 2019, shall not be included in the calculation of the total number of consecutive years served in that office.”)

A series of floor amendments, however, have been filed for consideration as part of the vote. All these amendments were offered up by the same Representative who tried to amend a “Scalia rule” into the 2016 version of appellate term limits. The “Scalia rule” would have prohibited Florida governors from appointing members of the Florida Supreme Court in their last year in office.

  1. Amendment 769097 puts a 12-consecutive-years limit on appellate judges and ends the state’s merit/commission system of selection, replacing it with governor-appointment with the judge requiring a 2/3rds majority of the House and Senate to be confirmed.
  2. Amendment 240027 puts a 28-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts (supreme and district court of appeal).
  3. Amendment 115709 puts a 24-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts.
  4. Amendment 203245 puts a 20-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts.
  5. Amendment 368361 puts a 16-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts.
  6. Amendment 924205 puts a 12-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts.
  7. Amendment 439969 puts a 24-consecutive-years limit for district court of appeal judges only.
  8. Amendment 221391 puts a 20-consecutive-years limit for district court of appeal judges only.
  9. Amendment 961487 puts a 16-consecutive-years limit for district court of appeal judges only.
  10. Amendment 221391 puts an 8-consecutive-years limit for district court of appeal judges only.
  11. Amendment 501941 puts a 12-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts and provides that judges of the court(s) may not represent a client before the court on which they served for 6 years after leaving the court.
  12. Amendment 728183 puts a 12-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts and provides that judges of the court(s) must disclose how much they were paid by clients to appear before the courts on which they served.
  13. Amendment 760147 puts a 12-consecutive-years limit for both appellate courts and provides that judges of the court(s) may not represent a client before any Florida state court for 2 years after leaving the court.

 

Arizona: new law gives pro se litigants same electronic access and filing privileges as attorneys, but only in their own case

A bill to give Arizona pro se litigants the same right to court e-filing and e-dockets as attorneys, but only in their own cases, was signed into law last week.

HB 2220 as enacted amends the state’s existing electronic filing and access law and provides

  1. If the presiding judge of the Superior Court (Arizona’s court of general jurisdiction) provides access or filing privileges to attorneys, the privileges must also be provided to pro se litigants.
  2. Access or filing privileges provided to attorneys or pro se litigants may be limited to records of cases in which they are involved (attorney = party or attorney of record for party; pro se = pro se litigant’s own case).

HB 2220 has an effective date of December 31, 2017.

Special Edition: New Hampshire fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

SB 200 AS APPROVED BY SENATE

  • Provides no defendant shall be incarcerated after a final hearing for nonpayment of an assessment or nonperformance of community service unless counsel has been appointed for a defendant who is indigent or such defendant has executed a valid waiver of counsel for the final hearing.
  • Provides incarceration of such defendant may occur only if the court, after having conducted an ability to pay or ability to perform final hearing at which the court has made a specific inquiry of the defendant concerning his or her financial circumstances and his or her reasons for nonpayment or nonperformance, finds that the defendant willfully failed to pay the assessment or perform the community service.
  • Requires court prior to conducting an ability to pay or ability to perform final hearing
  • Provide the defendant with a financial affidavit and direct the defendant to complete the affidavit;
    1. Inform the defendant that he or she may be immediately incarcerated if the court finds that he or she has willfully failed to comply with the court’s prior order to pay an assessment or perform community service;
    2. Inform the defendant that he or she is entitled to counsel for the final hearing in which incarceration is a possible outcome and, if the defendant cannot afford one, the court will appoint one; and
    3. Explain the issues to be decided at the final hearing as well as the process provided.
    4. Requires court appoint counsel to represent an indigent defendant at a final hearing on an ability to pay or perform held pursuant to this section if incarceration is a possible outcome of the final hearing.

Approved by full Senate 2/16/17. Public Hearing in House Judiciary Committee 3/15/17.

Special Edition: Mississippi fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

HB 672

  • Requires appointment of counsel for indigent persons who face the possibility of incarceration due to a charge of failure to pay fines, fees, court costs, state assessments or restitution, or for a charge of failure to appear for court proceedings on a failure-to-pay charge.
  • Provides a court shall not order the imprisonment or revoke the probation of a person for nonpayment of a fine or restitution, or failure to make timely payments toward such penalties under a payment schedule approved by the court, without first holding a hearing, on the record, inquiring into the reasons for the nonpayment, the individual’s ability to pay and efforts to secure resources, and the adequacy of alternatives to incarceration.
  • Provides a court shall not order the imprisonment or revoke the probation of an individual for nonpayment of fees, state assessments, or court costs, or failure to make timely payments toward such penalties under a payment schedule approved by the court.’
  • Provides a person shall be presumed to be “unable to pay” a fine, fee, state assessment, court cost or restitution if the person:
    1. Has an annual income at or below the federal poverty level;
    2. Resides in a correctional or mental health facility;
    3. Is homeless;
    4. Is currently enrolled in one or more types of public assistance;
    5. Has a development disability or is totally and permanently disabled; or
    6. By the payment of fines, state assessments, fees, court costs, or restitution, would be deprived or the person’s dependents, including children and elderly parents, would be deprived of financial support needed to meet basic needs such as housing, food, child care, or transportation.

Died in House Judiciary A Committee.

HB 1033 AS APPROVED BE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

      • Provides incarceration shall not automatically follow the nonpayment of a fine, restitution, court order or court costs.
      • Provides incarceration may be employed only after the court has conducted a hearing and examined the reasons for nonpayment and finds, on the record, that the defendant was not indigent or could have made payment but refused to do so.
      • Provides when determining whether a person is indigent, the court shall use the current Federal Poverty Guidelines and there shall be a presumption of indigence when a defendant’s income is at or below one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, subject to a review of his or her assets.
      • Provides a defendant at or below one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines without substantial liquid assets available to pay fines, fees, and costs shall be deemed indigent. In determining whether a defendant has substantial liquid assets, the judge shall not consider up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) in tangible personal property, including motor vehicles, household goods, or any other assets exempted from seizure under execution or attachment as provided under Section 85-3-1.
      • Provides if the defendant is above one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the judge shall make an individualized assessment of his or her ability to pay based on the totality of the circumstances including, but not limited to, the defendant’s disposable income, financial obligations and liquid assets. If the judge determines that a defendant who claims indigence is not indigent and the defendant could have made payment but refused to do so, the case file shall include a written explanation of the basis for the determination of the judge. In justice and municipal court, such finding shall be included in the court’s order.
      • Provides if it appears to the satisfaction of the court that nonpayment is not willful, the court shall enter an order that allows the defendant additional time for payment, reduces the amount of each installment, revokes the fine, in whole or in part, or allows the defendant to perform community service at the state minimum wage per hour rate.
      • Provides if the court finds nonpayment is willful after consideration of the defendant’s situation, means, and conduct with regard to the nonpayment, the court shall determine the period of incarceration, if any, subject to the limitations set by law
      • Provides if, at the time the fine, restitution or court cost is ordered, a sentence of incarceration is also imposed, the aggregate total of the period of incarceration imposed pursuant to this section and the term of the sentence originally imposed may not exceed the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for the offense.

Conference Committee report referred to House and Senate 3/27/17.

SB 2572

See HB 672. Died in Senate Judiciary A Committee.

 

North Carolina: Senate overrides governor, state’s trial courts will go back to partisan elections; appellate races returned to partisan in December 2016

The North Carolina Senate has voted to override the governor’s veto of HB 100, a bill to take return the state’s trial court races back to partisan contests. The House had voted to override earlier this week (discussed here).

The legislature had already in a December 2016 special session moved to take appellate races in the state back to partisan.

Special Edition: Missouri fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

HB 1209 Requires all moneys, except administrative costs, from minor traffic violations on state-maintained roads or highways to be sent to the Director of the Department of Revenue. In House (no committee).

HB 380 Allows court to order credit for time served when an individual has been held in custody for a show cause order pertaining to any matter related to a minor traffic violation. Requires any summons for a minor traffic violation to include the date and time a defendant is to appear in court when the defendant is first provided the summons. Provides if the summons does not include such information when first given to the defendant, the summons will be void. Approved by House General Laws Committee 2/21/17. In House Rules Committee.

HB 623 Prohibits the fine collection center from taking an individual’s drivers’ license for failure to appear for a traffic violation. Action postponed in House Judiciary Committee 3/7/17.