The last few years have seen massive changes to public retirement systems in general, and judicial ones in particular. I dedicated an entire week to the subject earlier this year, most focused on ending defined benefit pensions/plans and replacing them with defined contribution programs. The most recent big move was in Rhode Island earlier in November. HB 6319/ SB 1111 converts the Judicial Retirement Benefits Trust and the other state and local employee retirement systems into what media reports describe as a “hybrid” system, adding elements of defined contribution to the existing defined benefit plan(s). The bill was signed into law November 18 and already there are government websites dedicated to describing how the new program will be put into effect, including a special FAQ for judges, which includes a table (below the fold).
Archive for November, 2011
New laws or resolutions affecting the courts enacted or adopted by the New Hampshire legislature in 2011 include the following:
HB 150 Clarifies that for judicial branch employees who transfer without a break in service from the judicial branch to state service in the executive branch or the legislative branch, the rate of accrual of annual and sick leave shall be according to continuous years worked and, upon the employee’s transfer, the rate of accrual shall be the rate of accrual of the receiving branch.
HB 299 Allows the annual contribution for unfunded accrued liability of the judicial retirement plan to be calculated over a 30-year period or the maximum period allowed, whichever is less.
HB 511 Clarifies that retired judges over 70 years of age shall not serve as judges in any judicial capacity except as judicial referees.
HB 609 Consolidates probate courts, district courts, and judicial branch family division into new circuit court.
HR 7 Directs house judiciary committee to investigate whether grounds exist to impeach marital master Phillip Cross and/or any justice of the New Hampshire superior court.
HR 13 “Repudiates” state Supreme Court advisory opinion regarding constitutionality of bill requiring Attorney General join in lawsuit against health care law. Urges Senate to pass bill compelling AG to joint suit.
SB 65 Clarifies court facilities rents are to be negotiated and paid for by the department of administrative services and not the administrative office of the courts.
Oregon’s legislature approved of one constitutional amendment related to the courts in 2011:
HJR 44 Redefines “judicial department” as “judicial branch”.
New laws or resolutions affecting the courts enacted or adopted by the Oregon legislature in 2011 include the following:
HB 2237 Recreates the Public Guardian and Conservator Task Force.
HB 2367 Allows governing body (currently county court) of counties with a population of 400,000 or less to offer law library services in lieu of acquiring, maintaining or operating law library through a contract with a law library association or other organization. Allows use of law library fees collected in circuit court to pay amounts agreed to under contract. Requires State Court Administrator to conduct biennial electronic survey of all county law libraries and law library services provided by counties.
HB 2403 Directs Judicial Department and other state branches/agencies to partner with Oregon Military Department to provide reintegration services for veterans
HB 2667 Specifies that court administrator is subject to direction of court in entering judgment for judgment by default. Updates statutory references to Oregon State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service to include website address. Establishes, for declaratory judgment filings occurring on or after January 1, 2011, and before July 1, 2011, $117 filing fee. Requires, upon request, partial refund of any filing fee paid at higher rate on or after January 1, 2011, and before effective date of Act.
HB 2710 : Amends, creates, or redefines numerous laws related to court fees. Court Civil Revenues Account in General Fund and directs disbursement to state bar, to counties of law libraries, etc. Repeals Judicial System Surcharge Account.
HB 3102 Transfers authority over court appointed special advocates and CASA Volunteer Programs from State Commission on Children and Families to judicial branch.
HB 3525 Establishes Courthouse Capital Improvement Trust Fund. Appropriates moneys in the account to Oregon Department of Administrative Services, and limit uses of those moneys to payment of costs of capital improvements to county courthouses. Provides that 10 percent of amount awarded as punitive damages under verdict in civil action is payable to Attorney General for deposit in Courthouse Capital Improvement Trust Fund.
SB 360 Provides that prohibition on justice of the peace district including portion of city that is county seat, or portion of city in which circuit court regularly holds court, does not prevent justice of the peace from conducting arraignment for person in custody in city if accusatory instrument for offense was filed in justice court and offense was committed within boundaries of justice of the peace district.
SB 391 Specifies conditions under which tax court magistrate may hold outside office or position of profit or pursue outside calling or vocation.
SB 676 Directs Governor and Chief Justice to report to Legislative Assembly on plan to implement outcomes-based strategies.
Since the last update of this list in October, one piece of legislation has been introduced. Pennsylvania’s HB 2029 bans court references to any “foreign legal code or system” if doing so would impair constitutional rights.
Full roster of 2010 bills are available. 2011 and 2012 bills after the jump. » Read more: Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Pennsylvania bill introduced
This week promises to be busy for legislators as Special and Interim Sessions are being held in Illinois, North Carolina, and Washington.
The Illinois House’s Judiciary II – Criminal Law Committee meets December 1 to examine overcrowding in prisons.
In NC, the Senate Judiciary I committee meets today (November 28) to debate changes to the state’s No Discriminatory Purpose in Death Penalty Act that allow the introduction of certain statistical evidence to show discrimination in either pretrial or posttrial proceedings in capital cases.
- Bail and pretrial release practices
- Consular Notification
- County Coroners
On December 2, it is the House Judiciary’s turn to meet. That committee will look at
- Child Support Schedule Work Group Report and Recommendations
- Uniform Collaborative Law Act
- Legislation authorizing qui tam actions as part of a state Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act
A special double issue will come out next Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving from Gavel to Gavel!
The effort in New Hampshire to impeach a marital master, and potentially all the judges of the state’s Superior Court, for their decisions in family law cases is set to continue on November 29 (see here for all prior posts). According to the NH House calendar, a special subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is set for a work session pursuant to HR 7, which directs the house judiciary committee to investigate whether grounds exist to impeach marital master Philip Cross and/or any justice of the New Hampshire superior court.
In the last several years, three major efforts to consolidate or restructure a state’s courts have been enacted: Vermont (2010 merger of Probate, Family, and District Court), New Hampshire (2011 merger of District, Probate, and Judicial Branch Family Division into newly created Circuit Court) and Indiana 2011 (granting all Circuit, Superior, and Probate courts original and concurrent jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases).
Each of these, however, took the form of a single bill. Michigan’s effort at restructuring its judiciary been introduced as a series of nearly 36 bills, all of which are focused on elimination of judgeships, merging Probate courts with District by making Probate Judges serve as District Judges (or vice versa), and the consolidation of geographic districts/circuits. This is addition to the effort to the legislative push for concurrent jurisdiction and consolidation plans developed independently by courts.
Details are below
Eliminate District Judgeship(s); require probate judges in district serve as District Judges in their respective counties
Reduces judgeships but retains Districts/Circuits
SB 416 3rd Circuit: 61 to 60. 26th District: 2 to 1. Eliminates District judgeship in 85th Judicial District. Splits 85th District into 85-A and 85-B and requires probate judges in district serve as District Judges in their respective counties.
HB 4313 Consolidates 20th and 21nd Circuits into 20th, with the consent of the cities involved.
HB 5103 / SB 835 Consolidates 43rd District & 44th District into the 43rd and 45A and 45B District into the 45th District. Also reduces judgeships in 25th District (2 to 1), 30th District (2 to 1), 33rd District (3 to 2), 48th District (3 to 2), and 50th District (4 to 3) . Retains provision giving 47th District two judgeships, but eliminates clause allowing an additional judgeship if and when a district court judgeship was eliminated anywhere in the state, subject to review and recommendation by SCAO and subsequent legislation.
HB 4313 Combines twentieth and twenty-first districts.
SB 319 Reduces Court of Appeals from 4 districts of 7 judges each to 4 districts of 6 judges each.
The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee will meet 11/21 to vote on HB 1976, related to venue in personal injury actions against corporations and similar entities.