The Arizona House Judiciary committee will hold a hearing this week on a proposal to require pro se litigants have access to efiling as well as potentially ending the use of paper/written transcripts in the state.
HB 2220 as filed prohibits the supreme court or any court in the state from designating “a paper transcript of a hearing or other proceeding as the only official record if the hearing or other proceeding is electronically recorded and the recording is audible.”
Additionally, the bill amends an existing law allowing electronic filing of documents and electronic access to records in the state’s general jurisdiction courts (Superior) to provide that if the court does provide such access/filing to attorneys “the privileges must also be provided to clients and pro se litigants.”
While Gavel to Gavel is focused on state legislation affecting state courts, I occasionally find and discuss state legislation affecting federal courts. Such as bill has just been filed in the Arizona House.
The U.S. Constitution provides federal “judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour”. The chair of the Arizona House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy committee has filed a bill that claims this gives the state’s legislature the power to remove “a federal judge who presides in this state” by declaring them not serving in good behavior.
HB 2282 of 2017 lists three causes for such a removal process
- A judicial act that is in blatant disregard of the original intent of the United States constitution or the laws of the United States.
- Professional or personal conduct that is unbecoming of a federal judge.
- Grossly lenient sentences for offenses in comparison to national trends for similar offenses.
HB 2282 has been filed in the House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Last year Arizona state senators defeated by a single vote a plan to prohibit state courts from enforcing or upholding federal court rulings as “commandeering” the state’s judges. The plan was approved by the Arizona House 31-27 but rejected 14-15 and then again on reconsideration 15-15 by the Senate (discussed here). The plan has now been refiled in the House with a hearing later today.
HB 2097 of 2017 would provide that “the sovereign authority ” of Arizona allows the legislature to call a halt to any “commandeering” “action” by the federal government. “Action” includes “A ruling issued by a court of the United States.” Moreover, the ruling by the courts of the United States would only be allowed to be enforced or upheld by Arizona courts if “affirmed by a vote of the Congress of the United States and signed into law as prescribed by the Constitution of the United States” or via a bill passed and enacted by the state’s legislature & governor.
HB 2097 has a hearing before the House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy committee today.
A bill that would prohibit Arizona state courts and other state entities from enforcing federal “actions”, including federal court rulings, as “commandeering” state officials failed by the narrowest of margins in the Senate twice in the last two weeks, this after having easily cleared the House.
Arizona HB 2201, was rejected by the Senate on a 14-15 vote on April 5, with one senator absent. A motion to reconsider was filed and the vote retaken on April 13, this time resulting in a 15-15 tie. Because Arizona does not have a Lt. Governor, there was no way to break the tie and the bill failed.
Last Thursday the Arizona Senate Committee of the Whole advanced its version of HB 2201, a bill that would prohibit state courts and other state entities from enforcing federal “actions”, including federal court rulings, as “commandeering” state officials.
As previously noted, the “anti-commandeering” law would allow the legislature to order state and local officials not to “enforce, administer, or cooperate with any action of the United States government that constitutes commandeering.” The definition of “action” includes “A ruling issued by a court of the United States.” Commandeering is defined as an action that either
(a) Is not in pursuance of the Constitution of the United States and has not been affirmed by a vote of the Congress of the United States and signed into law as prescribed by the Constitution of the United States.
(b) Exceeds the powers of the Congress of the United States enumerated in the Constitution of the United States
Plans to expand the Arizona (from 5 to 7 members) and the Georgia (7 to 9) supreme courts cleared committee hurdles yesterday and appear on their way to final passage. Proponents argue the expansions are needed for growing states. Critics in both Arizona and Georgia view the proposals as efforts at packing the courts.
Arizona HB 2537 which was already approved by the House last month cleared the Senate Government Committee on a 4-3 vote yesterday. It now goes to the Senate Rules Committee before going on to the full Senate.
Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved HB 927 which expands the supreme court and restructures the appellate jurisdiction and procedures both for that court and the state’s Court of Appeals. That bill will now move on for a Senate floor vote.
Both bills call for the new vacancies to be filled by the state’s sitting governors. Arizona uses a merit/commission system; Georgia’s bill calls for the governor alone to make the selections.
The efforts by legislators in Arizona and Georgia appears to be part of a larger national trend to alter the number of justices on courts of last resort as detailed here.
A bill that would prohibit Arizona state courts from enforcing federal court orders that previously cleared the House 31-27 has now cleared the Senate Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility committee on a 4-3 vote.
HB 2201 as previously discussed here and here prohibits “commandeering” of state and local “personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any action of the United States government that constitutes commandeering.” It then defines “action of the United States government” to include “a ruling issued by a court of the United States.” State courts would and could be allowed to enforce federal court rulings if a) the legislature enacted and the governor signed a law to allow it and/or b) the federal court decision is “affirmed by a vote of the Congress of the United States and signed into law.”
HB 2201 now goes to the Senate Rules Committee before being sent on to the full Senate.
Plans to expand the Arizona and Georgia Supreme Courts have recently advanced.
On February 18, the Georgia House approved HB 927 which would expand that state’s court of last resort from 7 to 9 members on July 1, 2016. The proposal would allow the state’s governor to name the two new justices for interim appointment, subject to a nonpartisan election in 2018.
On February 24 the Arizona House approved HB 2537 which would expand that state’s court of last resort from 5 to 7 members, with an effective date sometime this summer. The new justices would be subject to the state’s merit/commission based selection process.
Both bills now head for their respective senates.
A plan to end Arizona’s merit/commission system of selection for appellate judges and some Superior Court judges was removed from the House Judiciary Committee, transferred to the Appropriations committee, and approved on an 8-5 vote yesterday.
HCR 2028 would require judges of the state’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court in counties over 250,000 use a nonpartisan election system; nonpartisan elections are already in place for Superior Court in counties under 250,000. The plan also specifically targets the state’s supreme court by reducing the terms of justices from 6 years down to 4 years. It also eliminates the Judicial Performance Review Commission.
HCR 2028 now goes to the House Rules Committee.
An anticipated plan by Georgia’s governor to expand the state’s supreme court from 7 to 9 members discussed here and here has finally been filed. HB 927 would make a host of changes in addition to the expansion, including altering the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to take over many of the cases currently heard directly by the Supreme Court. The expansion plan specifically provides the vacancies would be filled by the governor; an election in November 2018 would be held for the seats as well.
This is the third time in the last decade the legislature has attempted to increase the Georgia Supreme Court (discussed here).
Georgia now joins Arizona and Washington in the list of states attempting to change the composition of their respective courts of last resort.
- In Arizona the effort to expand the state’s Supreme Court from 5 to 7 members (HB 2537) may go before the full House this week. An effort to place it on the House Consent Calendar was rejected yesterday.
- In Washington, legislators are attempting to reduce the state’s Supreme Court from 9 to 5 members (HB 2784).