Arizona: hearing next week on plan to end merit/commission selection of judges & reduce terms down to 2 years; bill sent to House Appropriations, not House Judiciary

The latest effort to end merit/commission selection for Arizona’s appellate courts and Superior Courts has been refiled. HCR 2030 would require partisan elections for all appellate and Superior Courts and reduce judge’s terms in office from the current 6 (appellate) or 4 (Superior) down to 2 years. The companion HB 2534 provides the implementing statutes, contingent on passage of HCR 2030 and makes clear it is a partisan race.

As occurred last year the bill is not being heard in the House Judiciary Committee. Instead it has been sent into the House Appropriations Committee, which approved a similar version (HCR 2028 of 2016) although that version made the races nonpartisan (“without partisan or other designation.”)

 

Arizona: citing state’s “sovereign authority” House approves ban on state courts from being “commandeered” into enforcing federal court rulings

The Arizona House yesterday approved on a 38-22 vote HB 2097 which could result in state court judges being directed by the legislature not to enforce federal court rulings including those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

HB 2097 of 2017 provides 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 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 now goes to the Senate which narrowly defeated the same measure last year (discussed here).

Arizona: Bill set for hearing this week would require pro se litigants have access to efiling, require audio recordings be considered official record

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.”

Arizona: chair of House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy committee files bill to allow state legislature to remove federal judges in state from office

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

  1. A judicial act that is in blatant disregard of the original intent of the United States constitution or the laws of the United States.
  2. Professional or personal conduct that is unbecoming of a federal judge.
  3. 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.

Arizona: citing state’s “sovereign authority”, bill bans state courts from being “commandeered” into upholding federal court rulings; only defeated by 1 vote in 2016

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.

Arizona: Senate defeats (twice) plan to prohibit state courts from enforcing federal court rulings; tie vote results in failed bill

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.

Arizona: Senate set to vote on plan to prohibit state courts from enforcing federal court rulings unless rulings approved by Congress; House already approved plan

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