Nominate Gavel to Gavel for ABA Journal’s Top 100 law blogs of 2014; deadline 8/8/14!

July 9th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

Thanks to your support Gavel to Gavel the blog has been named one of the ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs (law blogs) two years in a row.

The ABA Journal is seeking nominations again this year starting today and running through August 8, 2014.

If you enjoy Gavel to Gavel and would like to show your support, visit the ABA Journal Law Blog Amici page and suggest Gavel to Gavel.

Thank you!

Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – New Hampshire

July 21st, 2014 by Bill Raftery

Of all the states in the U.S., none has had quite the legislative history when it comes to supreme court rulemaking as New Hampshire. The state’s current constitutional provision reads:

The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of all the courts. He shall, with the concurrence of a majority of the supreme court justices, make rules governing the administration of all courts in the state and the practice and procedure to be followed in all such courts. The rules so promulgated shall have the force and effect of law. (Art. 73-a)

Concern over 73-a stems from the legislature’s displeasure with certain court decisions in interpreting 73-a. There is also the belief that the language put on the ballot after the state’s 1974 constitutional convention, in particular the last sentence (“The rules so promulgated shall have the force and effect of law.”) was not included on the ballot title/summary. Opponents claim that made the provision improperly approved by voters.

As a result the issue has been on the ballot 3 times in the past 20 years. Details below the fold. Highlighted portions indicate legislative approval.

» Read more: Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – New Hampshire

Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 3

July 21st, 2014 by Bill Raftery

This third installment looks at efforts to change state constitutional grants of rulemaking authority to courts of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or judicial councils.

My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here.

Hawaii to Maryland below the fold.

» Read more: Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 3

Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 2

July 18th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

This second installment looks at efforts to change state constitutional grants of rulemaking authority to courts of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or judicial councils.

My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here.

Hawaii to Maryland below the fold.
» Read more: Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 2

Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 1

July 17th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

Most state constitutions grant their court of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or their judicial council some degree of rulemaking authority. My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here. In the last several years, however, legislatures have made efforts to amend or alter those provisions. This series will examine all such efforts and how they have fared.

Alabama to Georgia below the fold.

» Read more: Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 1

Look back: Debate over whether to allow AZ judges to carry guns into their courthouses

July 15th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

During the 2014 session the Arizona legislature considered SB 1266, a bill to allow “judicial officers” in the state to carry firearms into their courthouses, subject to rules set by the local Superior Court’s presiding judge. Testimony during the Senate and House Judiciary Committee hearings focused on justices of the peace working in rural parts of the state where no court security was provided. An amendment required that judges also demonstrate “competence” through a firearms safety course or similar training.

SB 1266 as amended was signed into law in April 2014.

NC: House wants to study limiting online information about nonelected judicial officers & prosecutors

July 7th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

The question of whether cities and counties should publish information about judges, law enforcement, and others may be the subject of a study under a bill passed by the North Carolina House last week. Under SB 78 as amended the North Carolina Courts Commission would study the development of a process to remove personal information of nonelected officials from records available on sites maintained by cities and counties. According to news reports the online information being targeted includes local tax payments, property deeds and other records accessible to the public online. The bill stems from a recent incident where a local prosecutor was targeted for kidnapping due to her work; the kidnappers took her father instead.

In conducting the study, the Courts Commission would be required to consider:

  1. The nonelected officials, including law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judicial officers, who may request removal of their personal information.
  2. The city and county Web sites from which nonelected officials may request removal of their personal information.
  3. The information subject to removal from Web sites.
  4. The process for removal of personal information from Web sites.
  5. Under what circumstances the information removed from Web sites is subject to disclosure as a public record.
  6. The costs of such a process to cities and counties.
  7. Any other matters that the Courts Commission deems relevant.

 

North Dakota: Interim Judiciary Committee looks at creating a “one fee” system for criminal convictions

July 2nd, 2014 by Bill Raftery

The North Dakota Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee meets yesterday (July 1). On the agenda were several items, including the question of court fees. During the 2013 the legislature considered SB 2078 which would have consolidated seven different fees imposed by courts in criminal cases into a single fee, the amount of which would vary based upon the grade of the offense. Concerns were voiced, however, over the consolidation of the check fee and victim witness fee into this new “one fee” system; such fees presently went to or remained with the locality.

Ultimately SB 2078 was turned into a request that these subjects be studied for the 2015 session.

During the 2013-14 interim, the legislative management shall consider studying the assessment of fees by courts, the feasibility and desirability of combining various court fees, and whether courts should be mandated to impose fees established by statute. The legislative management shall report its findings and recommendations, together with any legislation required to implement the recommendations, to the sixty – fourth legislative assembly

One of the key elements to come out of the prior hearings in January 2014 and May 2014 was the victim witness fees that fund local victim witness program coordinators or can be used to fund local domestic violence programs. Two draft bills on the subject were discussed but not yet online.

 

NJ: Bill could ban local government officials from pressuring municipal judges/judicial candidates regarding court revenue

July 1st, 2014 by Bill Raftery

A bill currently pending the the New Jersey Assembly would effectively ban municipal government officials from pressing Municipal Court Judges on the subject of how much revenue the court/judges is producing. The 539 Municipal Courts in New Jersey handle the state’s traffic/violation offenses along with minor criminal matters and are generally appointed by the municipal government for three year terms.

Under AB 2638 of 2014

No local government officer or employee shall discuss with any municipal court judge or any candidate for a municipal court judgeship pursuant to N.J.S.2B:12-4 the local government agency’s need for or reliance upon municipal court revenues.

AB 2638 has been assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

North Carolina: plan to increase mandatory judicial retirement age appears then disappears in legislation

June 30th, 2014 by Bill Raftery

A plan to increase North Carolina’s mandatory judicial retirement age appeared, and then effectively disappeared, from legislation in the House late last week. The plan was found inside SB 594 which itself began in 2013 as a bill to address drug testing welfare recipients (version 1). It was approved as such by the Senate Judiciary II Committee (version 2), the Senate Health Care Committee (version 3) and finally the full Senate (version 4) all in 2013.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary C Subcommittee and left dormant from April 2013 until this month. The subcommittee created effectively a brand new bill inside SB 594 (version 5) and the title was renamed Omnibus Justice Amendments. One of those amendments in version 5 was to increase the mandatory retirement ages for judges from 72 to 75 in language identical to that found in HB 12 of 2013 which failed to make it out of committee.

The House Judiciary C Subcommittee bill was approved on June 19. On June 26, however, the House Committee on Appropriations took up the bill (version 6) and dropped references to the retirement age increase. The House then advanced the bill to the Second Reading calendar.