Week ahead: changes to merit selection in Vermont; impeaching Kansas judges for “usurping” legislature

Hearings and Votes

March 21

Kansas Senate Floor Vote

SB 439 Specifies grounds for impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justice and District Court judges chosen via merit/commission system to include “attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power, attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government, exhibiting wanton or reckless judicial conduct.”

March 22

March 23

March 24

March 25

Vermont House Judiciary Committee

SB 91 Prohibits member of judicial nominating board from serving 3 consecutive terms. Specifies what materials and actions of the board are public. Specifies judicial candidate must be resident of Vermont that has practiced law at least 10 years and practiced in Vermont at least 5. Defines in detail the criteria and standards for nomination by the Board.

Week ahead: adding justices to the AZ & GA supreme courts

Legislatures Coming Into Session

Louisiana 3/14

Hearings and Votes

March 14

Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 927 Expands supreme court from 7 to 9 members. Alters jurisdiction of supreme court and court of appeals.

March 15

March 16

Arizona Senate Government Committee

HB 2537 Expands supreme court from 5 to 7 members.

March 17

March 18

Week ahead: AZ may prohibit state courts from enforcing federal court decisions; possible votes on ending MD Circuit Court elections; several key votes by full NH House

Legislatures Coming Into Session

Minnesota 3/8

Legislatures Going Out of Session

Utah 3/10
Washington 3/10
Florida 3/11
Virginia 3/12
West Virginia 3/12

Hearings and Votes

March 7

March 8

Arizona Senate Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility Committee

HB 2201 Prohibits state courts from enforcing “federal actions” including federal court decisions unless decisions approved by Congress and/or state legislature.

Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 440 Amends or repeals approximately 70 statutes related to Judicial Branch operations including matters such as the appointment, compensation, duties, and qualifications of Judicial Branch personnel; the treatment of records, papers, and documents held by the Judicial Branch; the powers, duties, and selection of judges and justices; the delegation of certain roles and activities within the Judicial Branch; and budgeting procedures for district courts.

Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 1269 Requires any meeting of Supreme Court justices where voting for a candidate for the office of attorney general and reporter occurs to be subject to the open meetings law. (Note: in Tennessee the Attorney General is elected by the Supreme Court).

March 9

New Hampshire House

CACR 13 Provides that the chief justice of the supreme court shall make rules governing only employees of the courts and the practice and procedure to be followed in the courts. Strikes provision that such rules “shall have the force and effect of law.”

HB 1270 AS AMENDED: Provides judges must give precisely worded jury nullification instruction: “If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether the state has proved any one or more of the elements of the crime charged, you must find the defendant not guilty. However if you find that the state has proved all the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty. Even if you find that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.”

HB 1333 Provides judges must give precisely worded jury nullification instructions that include the jury’s power to “veto bad laws”.

HB 1386 Creates legislative procedure for a member of the legislature to introduce a citizen’s petition for redress of grievances to include removing judges from office.

HB 1522 Adopts Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as law.

March 10

March 11

Maryland House Judiciary Committee (voting session, possible votes on)

HB 223 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides Circuit Court judges to be appointed by governor and confirmed by senate. Provides if confirmation vote is less than 80% of senate, judge is subject to contested election. Provides legislature may remove judges from office for sickness or mental/physical infirmity on 2/3rds vote.

HB 224 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections.

HB 388 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections. Reduces term in office from 15 years down to 10 years.

HB 448 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections. Reduces term in office from 15 years down to 10 years. Provides if governor creates judicial nominating commissions, commission must reflect diversity and demographics of state.

Week ahead: letting public video record jurors and judges in NH; statutorily requiring diversity in RI courts; impeaching KS judges for “usurping” the legislature; ending merit selection in AZ, HI

Legislatures Going Out of Session

Wyoming 3/4
Oregon 3/6

Hearings and Votes

February 29

Arizona House Rules Committee

HCR 2028 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends merit/commission selection of Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court in counties with a population over 250,000. Requires all judges be elected in nonpartisan elections.

March 1

New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

HB 1546 Permits the audio and video recording of a public servant performing a public function. Defines “public servant” as including judges and jurors under RSA 640:2, II(a).

Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee

HB 7455 Requires governor and nominating authorities in making appointments to judicial nominating commission “ensure that the membership of the commission reflects the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the state’s population.” Requires commission consider diversity of bench in making recommendations and nominations. Requires nominations list sent to governor include at least one person of color.

March 2

Hawaii Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee

SB 2239 Ends merit/commission selection of judges. Requires justices and judges be elected to serve six-year terms and be subject to the consent of the senate for subsequent judicial terms.

Maryland House Judiciary Committee

HB 814 Creates task force to study the adequacy and cost of State laws and policies relating to the litigation of medical malpractice cases, including an examination of the efficiency of the State court system and whether justice would be better served by assigning judges with medical liability expertise to hear those cases.

Nebraska Senate Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

LB 779 Ends partisan elections for clerks of court and other county officials.

March 3

Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 439 Specifies grounds for impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justice and District Court judges chosen via merit/commission system to include “attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power, attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government, exhibiting wanton or reckless judicial conduct.”

March 4

Week ahead: Term limits for Florida appellate courts; Maryland debates 4 different bills to change Circuit Court selection; Arizona expanding supreme court, banning state courts from enforcing federal court decisions

Hearings and Votes

February 22, 2016

Arizona House Third Reading Calendar

HB 2201 Prohibits state courts from enforcing “federal actions” including federal court decisions unless decisions approved by Congress and/or state legislature.

Arizona House Committee of the Whole Calendar

HB 2537 Expands supreme court from 5 to 7 members.

February 23, 2016

Florida House Special Order Calendar

HJR 197 (Constitutional Amendment) Creates term limits for appellate judges. Prohibits service of more than two terms.

February 24, 2016

House Judiciary Committee (hearing)

SB 6317 Creates Office of Superior Courts within the AOC to be overseen by committee of 5 Superior Court judges who will select and retain staff and direct their work.

February 25, 2016

Maryland House Judiciary Committee

HB 223 Provides Circuit Court judges to be appointed by governor and confirmed by senate. Provides if confirmation vote is less than 80% of senate, judge is subject to contested election. Provides legislature may remove judges from office for sickness or mental/physical infirmity on 2/3rds vote.

HB 224 Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections.

HB 388 Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections. Reduces term in office from 15 years down to 10 years.

HB 448 Ends elections for Circuit Court judges. Provides judges to be appointed by governor, confirmed by senate, and subject to yes/no retention elections. Reduces term in office from 15 years down to 10 years. Provides if governor creates judicial nominating commissions, commission must reflect diversity and demographics of state.

Maryland Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee

SB 849 Creates task force to study creation of medical malpractice courts.

February 26, 2016

House Judiciary Committee (vote)

SB 6317 Creates Office of Superior Courts within the AOC to be overseen by committee of 5 Superior Court judges who will select and retain staff and direct their work.

Week Ahead: More attempts to change judicial selection in KS; expanding AZ Supreme Court; increasing the mandatory retirement age for MD judges

Legislatures Going Out of Session

New Mexico 2/18

Hearings and Votes

February 15, 2016

Arizona House Rules Committee

HB 2537 Increases Supreme Court from 5 to 7 members.

Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 440 Pertains to Supreme Court’s general administrative authority over judicial branch.

February 16, 2016

Kansas House Judiciary Committee

HCR 5013 (Constitutional Amendment) Changes Supreme Court nominating commission membership: 4 members chosen by election of bar members (one per congressional district); 5 members chosen by governor (one per congressional district + 1 statewide to serve as chair); 6 members chosen by legislature (2 House Speaker; 1 House Minority Leader; 2 Senate President; 1 Senate Minority Leader).

Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

SB 502 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 73.

February 17, 2016

Kansas House Judiciary Committee

HB 2652 Increases number of names sent to governor from judicial nominating commissions to fill district court vacancies from minimum 2/maximum 3 to minimum 3/maximum 5.

Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 454 Sets or amends court docket fees and charges.

February 18, 2016

February 19, 2016

Week Ahead: Term limits for FL appellate judges; OK may require 3-judge trial court panels to declare laws unconstitutional; changes to merit selection in HI & MO; AZ tries expand size of supreme court & prohibit state courts from enforcing SCOTUS decisions

Legislatures Coming Into Session

Wyoming 2/8

Hearings and Votes

February 8, 2016

Florida House Floor, 2nd Reading Calendar

HJR 197 (Constitutional Amendment) Creates term limits for appellate judges. Prohibits service of more than two terms.

February 9, 2016

Missouri Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee

SJR 30 Provides that when a judicial vacancy occurs in a court under the nonpartisan court plan the Governor shall appoint the new judge from a list of names, rather than from a list of three names, submitted by a nonpartisan judicial commission.

Oklahoma House Judiciary and Civil Procedure Committer

HB 2798 Provides where there is a challenge to a state statute as being unconstitutional, the District Court is to sit as a three judge panel.

February 10, 2016

Arizona House Federalism & States’ Rights Committee

HB 2024 Prohibits state courts from enforcing U.S. Supreme Court decisions unless decision is affirmed by Congress.

HB 2201 Prohibits state courts from enforcing federal court rulings unless decision is affirmed by Congress.

Arizona House Judiciary Committee

HB 2219 Establishes the Supreme Court as the entity responsible for licensing attorneys for the practice of law in Arizona and specifies membership of any organization is not required for attorneys to become or remain a licensed attorney in Arizona.

HB 2221 Establishes the Supreme Court as the entity responsible for regulation of attorneys. Specifies limited reasons Supreme Court may collect assessment/fees from attorneys.

HB 2357 Expands supreme court from 5 to 7 members.

HCM 2002 Urges Supreme Court to modify its rules related to the State Bar of Arizona to ensure the protection of First Amendment freedoms.

Hawaii Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee

SB 2238 Requires the judiciary, office of elections, and campaign spending commission to study appropriate methods of implementing a judicial election system in the State and submit a written report, including proposed legislation, to the legislature.

SB 2239 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends merit selection of judges. Requires justices and judges be elected to serve six-year terms and be subject to the consent of the senate for subsequent judicial terms.

SB 2420 (Constitutional Amendment) Retains merit selection of judges. Provides judges seeking additional terms in office must be reapproved by judicial selection commission and confirmed by senate (currently only need be reapproved by judicial selection commission). Provides if Senate fails to act within 90 days, judge is returned to office by default.

SB 2498 (Constitutional Amendment) Requires written notice of an appointment to the senate for advice and consent concurrent with the governor, judicial selection commission, or chief justice’s making of the appointment. Clarifies that the senate’s thirty-day period to reject a judicial appointment begins on the senate’s receipt of written notice of the governor’s, chief justice’s, or judicial selection commission’s appointment.

 

Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 1047 Creates the circuit and superior court motion clerk pilot program to provide assistance to courts with preparing orders for complex motions. Provides that the judicial center may administer the pilot program. Requires the judicial center to report to the interim study committee on courts and the judiciary concerning the pilot program. Requires the committee to receive reports concerning the pilot program, and allows the committee to make recommendations and to propose legislation concerning the pilot program.

February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016