Readers may recall earlier this year I noted a case involving legislative efforts to remove OK trial judge Thomas Bartheld.
Media reports of legislators planning his ouster made the news in June 2009 after Judge Bartheld sentenced a man who had pled no contest of raping and sodomizing a 5-year-old girl to 20 years in prison, 19 of which are suspended. The case made national headlines, with Bill O’Reilly mentioning the judge by name on his show seven times. Judge Bartheld, however, noted that “The district attorney, child’s family, advocates and the defendant all agreed to this [plea bargain].”
HR 1001 of 2011 asks the Trial Division of the Court on the Judiciary to assume jurisdiction and institute proceedings for the removal of Judge Bartheld from office.
Georgia’s history with its Supreme Court is one of note. For nearly 75 years of statehood, there was no appellate review: a new trial before a new jury in the local court was the only procedure available for the correction of judicial error.
Enter HR 5 of 2011, a constitutional amendment being considered in the 2011 session that would remove the state’s constitutional provisions making state supreme court (and court of appeals) decisions binding on lower courts. The resolution’s preamble also makes it clear the decisions of the appellate courts would not be binding on any other party other than those involved in the judicial action at hand.
Issue 4:22 (December 3) is here.
According to Texas Lawyer’s Blog, a piece of prefiled legislation in that state’s House would require the Texas Supreme Court conduct a cost-benefit analysis of proposed rules prior to adoption or amendment by the court. HB 352 would require the analysis for a host of rules, such as civil and criminal procedure and bar discipline.
Unlike some states which have constitutionally derived rule making authority that cannot be altered or interfered with by the state legislature, the Texas Supreme Court may “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.”
No word yet as to what prompted this particular piece of legislation to be introduced.
After over a decade without a salary increase, New York’s judges are expected to get some relief, but not until 2012. The state legislature and governor reached a deal (listed in the state legislature’s database as SB 42010 and AB 42010) in late November that would establish a judicial compensation commission. The panel would meet every 4 years starting in 2011 and recommend salary levels. Those recommendations would have the force of law one year later (i.e. in 2012) unless overridden by a separately enacted statute.
Once announced, the agreement moved quickly: the bills went from introduced to passed by both houses in three days.
It has been awhile since last this blog was updated, but with the state legislatures set to come back into session, the blog is being renewed and activated yet again.
This legislative session promises to be very hectic, with all states set to come in with very changed compositions and budget woes aplenty.
Gavel to Gavel the publication will start to come out in its free weekly editions starting this Thursday (December 9). Those interested in subscribing are encouraged to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your thoughts, ideas, posts, and questions are welcome. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Editor, Gavel to Gavel
A reader alerts me to Missouri SB 714 which creates an entirely different retirement plan for any judge entering service on or after January 1, 2011.
Judges will be required to reach age sixty-seven and have at least twelve years of service or reach age sixty-two and have twenty years of service before they are eligible for normal retirement. If a judge retires at age sixty-seven with less than twelve years of service, or at sixty-two with less than twenty years service, their retirement compensation will be reduced proportionately. Judges in this retirement plan will be required to contribute four percent of their compensation to the retirement system. Judges will not be able to purchase credit in the retirement plan for their past non-federal full-time public employment or their military service. Judges under this plan who continue to work after their normal retirement date will not have cost-of-living increases added to their retirement compensation for the period of time between their eligibility for retirement and their actual retirement date. When a retired judge under this plan dies, their beneficiary will not receive an amount equal to fifty percent of the judge’s retirement compensation. Instead, judges will make a choice at retirement among the benefit payment options, that includes options for the amount received by the beneficiary. The employee contribution rate, the benefits under the judicial retirement plan, and any other provision of the judicial retirement plan may be altered, amended, increased, decreased, or repealed, but such change will only apply to service or interest credits after the effective date of the change.
This act prohibits a retired judge who becomes employed after January 1, 2011, as an employee eligible to participate in the Missouri State Employees Retirement System retirement plan from receiving their judicial retirement benefits while they are employed. Any judge who serves as a judge while he or she is receiving their judicial retirement is prohibited from receiving their judicial retirement while serving as a judge. A judge who serves as a senior judge or senior commissioner while receiving judicial retirement will continue to receive judicial retirement and additional credit and salary for their service.