HB 2784 originally increased claims jurisdiction from $3,500 to $7,000. The House Judiciary Committee cut this down to $4,500 on 2/12/10 and on 2/22/10 the House Finance Committee OK’ed the $4,500 threshold. It now goes to the full House.
For more details on the nearly dozen efforts to increase small claims throughout the U.S. this year, check out the Focus piece of Issue 4:6 here.
Efforts to strip courts of jurisdiction over case types, such as taxation and school funding, are nothing new. See, for example, Kansas’ SCR 1613 which would prohibit the judicial branch from directing the legislative branch make any appropriation of money or to redirect the expenditure of funds.
2010 however is perhaps the first time a state legislature has tried to stop the use of karma by the courts (although it is not clear any courts are presently using it). Arizona’s HB 2379 and SB 1026 prohibits courts from implementing, referring or incorporating or using “a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law” and specifically includes sharia law, canon law, halacha, and karma. Decisions that make use of a body of religious sectarian law or foreign law are declared void and such usages declared to be grounds for impeachment. Moreover, the bills are not just targetting Arizona’s state courts; the same legislation declares these provisions apply to Federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction and requires any court that construes the statutes must do so in a way to confine the power of Congress and the federal judiciary.
A similar bill in Oklahoma, HJR 1056, would amend that state’s constitution to prohibit the courts from “look[ing] to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider Sharia Law…” That bill was approved by the House Rules Committee on February 4.