Arkansas: constitutional amendment creates quasi-federal system (with merit/commission elements) of selection for state’s supreme court

I mentioned last year that concerns over the amount of money being spent in state court races in general, and the state supreme court races in particular, had prompted discussions of legislative activity in the 2016 and 2017 session. The first proposal in this area has now been filed and the focus is squarely on the state’s supreme court.

SJR 4 would create a “1-and-done” quasi-federal system of selection for the supreme court that contains some elements of merit/commission systems but is unique in how it operates.

  1. Terms for the supreme court would be set at 14 years (currently 8) and a justice appointed to the court could not be reappointed.
  2. A Judicial Nominating Commission would be created, with the Governor naming 3 members, the House Speaker 1, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate 1.
  3. Rather than having the Commission submit names to the Governor (as in other merit/commission systems), the Governor would submit 5 names to the Commission who would then review the names and rank them in order within 15 days. The Commission would have the power to strike up to 2 names in the process. The Governor does not have to take into account the Commission’s rankings.
  4. The Governor would then pick from the list and submit the nominee to the Senate for confirmation. There does not appear to be any provision for default confirmation or rejection is the senate fails to act.

SJR 4 has been filed in the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.

 

 

Arkansas: Bills would allow parties to personally sue judges who take bribes

A proposal filed for the 2017 Arkansas legislation would remove judicial immunity, the principle that a judge cannot be sued in his or her personal capacity for official acts, in cases of bribery.

Under HB 1007 and SB 6 as filed a party could sue a judge if the judge made or influenced the adverse decision against a party as the result of bribery. The bribery would either have to be proven via

  1. a criminal proceeding in which the judge took a plea deal or was found guilty of bribery or
  2. the judge was fined, removed, or otherwise disciplined by the Supreme Court or the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for bribery.

The bill appears to be a response to a case in 2015 involving Circuit Court Judge Michael Maggio. The former judge pleaded guilty in January 2015 to a federal charge that he accepted a bribe in exchange for reducing a negligence jury verdict. The plaintiffs in the negligence case then sued Maggio, but the case against the former judge was dismissed in March 2015 due to judicial immunity.

Election 2016: Results and Implications for State Courts

Time to review the 4 ballot items from last night I was focused in terms of affecting the courts.

Mandatory judicial retirement ages

Oregon’s attempt to repeal that state’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 75 failed with only a 37% yes vote. That number is consistent with other states that attempted to raise or remove their ages. Those efforts only received, at best, 40% (New York 2013) and at worst 22% (Hawaii in 2014).

The other attempt was in Pennsylvania. There the proposal on the ballot would have set the mandatory judicial retirement age at 75 but pointedly did not include language that this was an increase from the current 70. The language, which appears to have been unique to Pennsylvania, resulted in the proposal squeaking to victory with 50.88%.

As I’ve noted, this issue is not going away as more and more states look to put in such increases or repeals. The trend remains, however, one in which legislators are persuaded to put the items on the ballots, but voters when confronted with language related to increases or repeals are inclined to reject such efforts.

Judicial Disciplinary Commissions

The Georgia legislature’s attempt to take control over the membership of the Judicial Qualifications Commission was approved with 62% of the vote. This move comes after similar efforts in Tennessee approved in 2010 that give the legislature the power to name 6 out of 16 members of that state’s judicial disciplinary body (Board of Judicial Conduct).

That said, it is unclear whether legislators in other states will have an interest in changes such as those in Georgia and Tennessee, especially given that in 24 states changes to membership would require either a constitution amendment and in another 10 the membership is set by the judiciary, not the legislature.

Clerks of Court Terms

Arkansas’ amendment to increase the terms in office for county officials from 2 years to 4, including Clerks of the Circuit Court, was approved. This leaves only certain counties in North Dakota with clerks of general jurisdiction courts elected to 2-year terms. As such, last night’s vote to increase terms isn’t so much the start of a trend but the end (or near end) of one.

Bail Reform

One additional item not covered but that readers have shown an interest in that relates to the courts is New Mexico’s bail reform constitutional amendment (Amendment 1) that was approved with 87% of the vote. The plan allows judges to deny bail to defendants considered exceptionally dangerous and to grant  pretrial release to those who aren’t considered a threat but remain in jail because they can’t afford bail.

In light of increased interest in reforms to fees, fines, and bail practices in state courts, it is almost certain that some activity in this arena will take place in state legislatures, if not as a constitutional amendment then as legislation focused on pretrial release and risk assessment.

Election 2016: Arkansas Issue 1 – Most states elect their general jurisdiction court clerks and they typically serve 4-6 years

I mentioned in the last post on Arkansas Issue 1 that most states elect the clerks of their general jurisdiction courts. In all, a total of 32 states have elected clerks. In 27 states all the clerks are elected. In 4 others (Nevada, Missouri, New York, and Washington) most clerks are elected; in select counties/independent cities the clerk is chosen by the court. Finally 1 state (North Dakota) uses a mixed approach of election (13 counties), court-appointment (14 counties), and selection by the county commission (26 counties).

The remaining 18 states make use of appointment/hired clerks of court for their general jurisdiction courts. It should be noted, however, that some of these states started originally with elected clerks and/or switched from appointed to elected and back again. For example under Delaware’s 1897 Constitution the Prothonotary of each County was ex officio Clerk of the Superior Court and elected. That changed in 1989 when SB 109 was adopted by the state’s legislature (Delaware doesn’t require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters) making the position appointive.

The Superior Court shall appoint a Prothonotary in each county to hold office at the pleasure of the said Court.

All existing elected clerks were allowed to remain in office.

Of the states that have elected clerks, almost all have opted for 4 year terms, much like Issue 1 would do for Arkansas Circuit Clerks. Only 1 state (North Dakota) has a 2-year term for some elected clerks. 4 states (Alabama Circuit, Kentucky Circuit, Massachusetts Superior, and West Virginia Circuit) have 6 year terms.

Details below the fold.

Continue reading Election 2016: Arkansas Issue 1 – Most states elect their general jurisdiction court clerks and they typically serve 4-6 years

Election 2016: Arkansas Issue 1 – why does Arkansas elect Circuit Court Clerks anyway?

On the ballot this November in Arkansas is Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would make several changes to the terms, election, and eligibility of elected officials. Among other things, it defines what is an “infamous crime” that would prohibit someone from holding elected office.

For court purposes, however, there is one key element: Clerks of the Circuit Court will see their terms in office extended from 2 years to 4 years.

The Arkansas Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction for the state and the Clerk of the Court is elected as a separate office that handles not only the records of that court but is also the county recorder of deeds and other instruments. Most states continue to elect their general jurisdiction clerks, as will be discussed in a future post.

The history of elected clerks of court is a rich one and reflective of the movement in the early 1800s towards “Jacksonian democracy.”  Prior to the Revolution, court clerks tended to be appointed either by the Crown or, in some instances, by the judges of the particular court. The U.S. Constitution, for example, hedged on this question in terms of the President, providing the President shall have the power to make appointments generally

but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

And thus the clerks of the federal courts are appointed by the judges of their respective courts, starting with the Judiciary Act of 1787.

That the Supreme Court, and the district courts shall have power to appoint clerks for their respective courts, and that the clerk for each district court shall be clerk also of the circuit court in such district…

Many if not most state constitutions adopted in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution maintained a similar pattern of having the clerks of court appointed by the Governor or judges.

In the period from roughly 1828 to 1854, traditionally referred to as the period of “Jacksonian democracy”, there was a push to provide that all or almost all positions of government authority should be vested in elected officials, not in appointed “elites”. The result was that many offices which were appointive became elective and with short terms.

In the case of Arkansas, the state’s first constitution (1836) reflected this duality. The Clerk of the Chancery Court would be appointed by the chancellors of that court. However, the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court would be an elective one with only a 2 year term (Art. VI, Sec. 7)

The qualified voters of each county shall elect a clerk of the circuit court for their respective counties, who shall hold his office for the term of two years; and courts of chan­cery, if any be established, shall appoint their own clerks.

The Second or Secession Constitution (1861) kept similar language (Art. VI, Sec. 9) that was then adopted verbatim into the Third Constitution (1864) also as Art. VI, Sec. 9

and the qualified voters of each county, shall elect a clerk of the circuit court for their respective counties, who shall hold his office for the term of two years, and until his successor is elected and qualified-the first election of circuit clerks, under this constitution, to be held at the general election next before the expiration of the commissions of the present incumbents. Courts of chancery, when established, shall appoint their own clerks.

Interestingly, the Fourth Constitution (1868) makes no mention of Circuit Clerks or their selection. There are indications the office may have converted at this time to an appointive one as many offices were required to become appointive under Reconstruction; judges in the state who had been elected under the 1864 constitution were now in 1868 appointed by the Governor.

The fifth and current constitution (1874) one again provided for elected Circuit Clerks (Art. VII, Sec. 19) and even moved to make the clerk of the chancery court elected (Art. VII, Sec. 44). Chancery courts were eventually abolished and merged into the Circuit Courts (Amendment 80). It is this 1874 provision of “two years” that is subject to amendment this year.

The clerks of the circuit court shall be elected by the qualified electors of the several counties, for the term of two years…

The judge and clerk of said [Pulaski chancery court] shall hold office for the term of two years, and shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State…

Election 2016: Coverage of November ballot items starts today; live coverage of all items election night at ncsc.org/elections

With the election season in full gear, today starts Gavel to Gavel’s review of the 4 ballot items to watch for state courts:

State Ballot Item Synopsis
Arkansas Issue 1 Extends terms for Circuit Clerks and other county officials from 2 years to 4 years
Georgia Amendment 3 Disbands Judicial Qualifications Commission, allows legislature to recreate and set membership
Oregon Measure 94 Repeals mandatory judicial retirement age
Pennsylvania Amendment 1 Increases mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75

In addition to these items, I’ll be once again hosting live election night coverage of the 65 supreme court/court of last resort races at the National Center for State Court’s Election 2016 website www.ncsc.org/elections

Arkansas: with talk of ending appellate judicial elections increasing, look at recent legislative proposals

After a costly supreme court race, several members of the Arkansas legislature as well as that state’s governor have expressed interest in ending the state’s nonpartisan elections and moving to an appointive system. I’ll be taking a look at the proposals submitted in the last several decades in Arkansas and examining what may be coming in the 2016 session.

1874 constitution

From 1874 to 2000 the state’s supreme court was elected on a statewide ballot. Art. VII, Secs. 2 & 6 of the 1874 constitution provided

The supreme court shall be composed of three judges, one of whom shall be styled chief justice, and elected as such…The judges of the supreme court shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State, and shall hold their offices during the term of eight years from the date of their commissions.

There are two key provisions with respect to these elections that continue to impact current races.

    • Amendment 29: adopted in 1928, the amendment prohibits a person appointed to fill an interim vacancy in an office from running for that office in the next election. While many states have used interim judicial vacancies to create some form of merit/commission systems (notably Minnesota) Arkansas’ provision makes such a system impossible since the person appointed would have to leave office.
    • Use of title “Judge” on ballot: For decades judges and other officials have been able to place their current office title on the ballot (“may add as a prefix to his or her name the title or an abbreviation of an elective public office the person currently holds“). Although a 2013 law (SB 694) somewhat limits the ability of interim appointed trial judges from using the title, the general rule still applies. Moreover, a person is able to use the word “Judge” even if running for a higher court. For example when she ran for the Supreme Court in 2014, Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne was identified on the ballot as “Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne.”

Untitled

1980 constitution

In 1980 state voters were presented with a brand new constitution, along with an optional question on judicial selection. The optional question gave voters a choice: should appellate courts be selected by nonpartisan elections or by merit/commission based selection. 56% of voters opted for nonpartisan races, but the main question on the constitutional revision overwhelmingly failed. As a result, appellate races remained partisan for another two decades. In the years after the 1980 defeat several legislative efforts were made to move to nonpartisan and/or merit/commission based selection, but none advanced out of the legislature.

Amendment 80 (2000)

In 2000 voters approved a complete rewrite of the state’s judiciary article in the form of Amendment 80. The amendment specifically required the nonpartisan elections of appellate judges (implementing legislation was enacted as SB 789 of 2001) and allowed the legislature to refer the question of merit selection back to the voters at any time.

(A) Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis by a majority of qualified electors voting for such office. Provided, however, the General Assembly may refer the issue of merit selection of members of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals to a vote of the people at any general election. If the voters approve a merit selection system, the General Assembly shall enact laws to create a judicial nominating commission for the purpose of nominating candidates for merit selection to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

(B) Vacancies in these offices shall be filled by appointment of the Governor, unless the voters provide otherwise in a system of merit selection.

Post-Amendment 80

Since the adoption of Amendment 80 several attempts have been made to move to a merit selection system, but none have advanced out of committee.

2011: SB 744 was limited to the Court of Appeals only and would have put the question of merit selection for that court on the 2012 ballot. I examined the bill here in 2011.

2013: HJR 1012 and HJR 1014 were placeholder bills (synopsis but not text) that were developed at a time when members of the state legislature were attempting to strip the state’s supreme court of the rule making authority given to it under Amendment 80. I examined the resolutions here. The resolutions discussed “amended the process for selecting justices of the Supreme Court” and amending Amendment 80 regarding rule making.

2015: HJR 1005 would have spelled out in detailed the creation of merit selection system for the Supreme Court only (as opposed to simply authorizing the legislature to create such a system as in SB 744 of 2011).

HJR 1015 went the opposite direction of many of these bills, reinstating partisan elections for all courts.

HJR 1016 was effectively a combination of HJR 1005 and HJR 1015: merit selection for the Supreme Court, partisan elections for all other courts.

I examined all three resolutions here and here.

Maryland hearing on usage and authorization for court facility dogs: bills in 6 other states pending/enacted recently

Over the last several years courts have grappled with when, and how, to allow the use of court facility dogs to assist witnesses and victims in giving testimony. A hearing set for today in Maryland’s Senate will examine the subject, while 6 other states have in the 2015/2016 legislative cycle either debated or in the case of Arkansas enacted statutes regarding facility dog usage.

Arizona: criminal cases, victim under 18, jury instruction required

HB 2375 of 2016 provides a court shall afford a victim who is under eighteen years of age the opportunity to have a facility dog accompany the victim while testifying in court. The court would be obligated to inform the jury “the facility dog is a trained animal, is not a pet owned by the victim witness and that the presence of the facility dog may not be interpreted as reflecting on the truthfulness of the testimony that is offered.”

HB 2375 cleared the House Judiciary Committee on January 20 and the House Rules Committee on January 25.

Arkansas: criminal cases, witness under 18, “appropriate jury instructions” required

HB 1855 of 2015 provided, subject to the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, Arkansas Rules of Evidence, or other rule of the Supreme Court, if requested by either party in a criminal trial or hearing and if a certified facility dog is available within the jurisdiction of the judicial district in which the criminal case is being adjudicated, a child witness of the party shall be afforded the opportunity to have a certified facility dog accompany him or her while testifying in court. “In a criminal trial involving a jury in which the certified facility dog is utilized, the court shall present appropriate jury instructions that are designed to prevent prejudice for or against any party.”

HB 1855 was enacted as Act 957 of the 2015 session.

Connecticut: criminal cases, violent crime victim, nothing on jury instructions

HB 5364 of 2015 provided that that in any criminal prosecution involving an alleged violent crime and testimony from a victim of such crime, such victim shall be permitted to be accompanied by a therapy dog while testifying in the criminal prosecution, provided such dog is not visible to the jury.

HB 5364 was filed in 2015 but never advanced out of committee.

Hawaii: any “judicial proceeding”, “vulnerable witness”, jury instructions “to the extent necessary”

HB 1668 of 2016 and the identical SB 2112 provide a court may permit the use of a facility dog involving the testimony of a vulnerable witness if the court determines that there is a compelling necessity for the use of a facility dog to facilitate the testimony of the vulnerable witness. “To the extent necessary, the court may impose restrictions, or instructions to the jury, regarding the presence of the facility dog during the proceedings.”

Both bills are pending in their respective Judiciary Committees.

Maryland: criminal proceedings, child witness, nothing on jury instructions

SB 55 of 2016 provides a court may allow a facility dog or therapy dog to accompany a child witness. There is no mention of jury instructions.

SB 55 is pending before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and it set for a hearing today (January 26).

New York: criminal proceedings, “vulnerable witness”, lengthy jury instruction

AB 389 of 2015 and the identical SB 231 provide that a court shall permit the use of a facility dog when, in a criminal proceeding involving the testimony of a vulnerable witness, the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence that it is likely that such witness will be unable to effectively communicate if required to testify without the presence of such facility dog and that the presence of such facility dog will facilitate such testimony. Both bills include a lengthy jury instruction statement

A jury instruction shall be given both before and after the appearance of the facility dog with the witness and at the conclusion of the trial. Such instruction shall include that the dog is a highly trained professional who is properly referred to as a “courthouse facility dog.” Included in this shall be the emphasis that the dog is not a pet, is not owned by the witness and is equally available to both the prosecution and defense under certain circumstances. Such instruction shall include that the presence of the facility dog is in no way to be interpreted as reflecting on the truthfulness of the testimony offered. Such instruction shall also include that the presence of the dog is a reasonable accommodation to the witness in allowing them to fulfill the obligation of testifying in a court of law.

Neither bill advanced out of committee in the 2015 session and were carried over into the 2016 session.

Tennessee: any civil or criminal proceeding, witness fitting criteria, nothing on jury instructions

HB 1987 of 2016 and the identical SB 1618 provide a court may allow the use of a courthouse facility dog for any civil or criminal proceeding for a witness. The court, in deciding on whether to permit the usage, may consider

  1. The age of the witness
  2. The nature of the witness’s relationship to the events giving rise to the proceeding
  3. Whether the witness suffers from any disability
  4. The rights of the parties to the proceeding
  5. Any other factors that the court deems relevant in facilitating the effective communication of information by the witness and protecting the rights of the parties to the proceeding.

HB 1987 has been filed but not yet assigned to a committee. SB 1618 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

With North Carolina going back to partisan races for Court of Appeals, other states looking at similar moves

With North Carolina moving its Court of Appeals races from nonpartisan back to partisan, I thought I’d take a moment to examine what other states with nonpartisan appellate races have seen similar efforts in recent years.

Arkansas: The state had partisan elections until a 2000 constitutional amendment (Amendment 80) rewrote the state’s entire judiciary article. Section 18 of the new judiciary article requires nonpartisan elections.

Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis by a majority of qualified electors voting for such office.

HJR 1015 of 2015 would have ended the mandated use of nonpartisan elections and allowed the General Assembly to use either partisan or nonpartisan elections. It died without a hearing.

Georgia: The state in 1983 adopted an entirely new constitution that requires nonpartisan election of appellate judges (Art. VI, Sec. VII, Para. I)

All Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Court of Appeals shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis for a term of six years.

HR 855 of 2005 would have ended the mandated use of nonpartisan elections and allowed the General Assembly to use either partisan or nonpartisan elections. It died without a hearing.

Idaho: The state has made use of nonpartisan elections for the Supreme Court since at least 1970 (I.C. 34-905).

There shall be a single nonpartisan ballot for the election of justices of the supreme court and district judges.

There has been no attempt to alter this provision in the last two decades.

Kentucky: The state in 1975 adopted an entirely new constitution that requires nonpartisan election of appellate judges (Sec. 117)

Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Court of Appeals, Circuit and District Court shall be elected from their respective districts or circuits on a nonpartisan basis as provided by law.

There has been no attempt to alter this provision in the last two decades.

Minnesota: State law mandates that those seeking a seat on the state’s appellate courts run on a nonpartisan basis (Minn. Stat. 204B.06(6))

Each justice of the Supreme Court and each Court of Appeals and district court judge is deemed to hold a separate nonpartisan office.

There has been no attempt to change this from nonpartisan to partisan, although several bills were introduced to change the nonpartisan races to gubernatorial appointment from a judicial nominating commission list and yes/no retention elections.

Mississippi: The state made use of partisan elections until the adoption of the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act in 1994. MS Code 23-15-976 specifies that

A judicial office is a nonpartisan office and a candidate for election thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation.

Nearly 3 dozen attempts have been made to repeal the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act in its entirety or at least with respect to the appellate courts and revert the law back to what it was prior to 1994 bringing a return to partisan elections. None have advanced out of committee.

Montana: State law mandates that those seeking a seat on the state’s Supreme Court run on a nonpartisan basis (MT Code 13-14-111)

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, candidates for nonpartisan offices, including judicial offices, must be nominated and elected according to the provisions of this title.

SB 393 of 2005, D. 1760 of 2009, and HB 521 of 2011 would have made the races for Supreme Court partisan. The 2005 bill was killed in committee and the 2009 version only reached the drafting stage. The 2011 version was approved on a 12-6 vote of the House State Administration Committee but was killed by the full House on a 45-54 procedural vote not to advance the bill beyond the 2nd Reading calendar.

Nevada: State law mandates that those seeking a seat on the state’s Supreme Court or its new Court of Appeals run on a nonpartisan basis (N.R.S. 293.195)

Judicial offices…are hereby designated nonpartisan offices.

There has been no attempt to change this from nonpartisan to partisan.

North Dakota: State law prohibits any reference to party on ballots for the state’s Supreme Court (N.D. Cent. Code 16.1-11-08)

No reference may be made to a party ballot or to the party affiliation of a candidate in a petition and affidavit filed by or on behalf of a candidate for nomination in the primary election to an elective county office, the office of judge of the supreme court, judge of the district court, or superintendent of public instruction.

There has been no attempt to change this from nonpartisan to partisan.

Oregon: State law defines races for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals as nonpartisan (O.R.S. 254.005(8))

“Nonpartisan office” means the office of judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals….

There has been no attempt to change this from nonpartisan to partisan.

Washington: State law mandates that those seeking a seat on the state’s Supreme Court run on a nonpartisan basis (RCW 29A.52.231)

The offices of superintendent of public instruction, justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of appeals, judge of the superior court, and judge of the district court shall be nonpartisan and the candidates therefor shall be nominated and elected as such.

Two bills to convert races for both appellate courts (HB 2661 of 2011) or just the Supreme Court (HB 1051 of 2015) were never heard in committee. A third proposal (HB 2150 of 2007) would have replaced nonpartisan elections with gubernatorial appointment from a judicial nominating commission list and yes/no retention elections.

Wisconsin: State law defines judicial races as occurring during the nonpartisan Spring Elections (Wis. Stat. 5.02(21))

“Spring election” means the election held on the first Tuesday in April to elect judicial, educational and municipal officers, nonpartisan county officers and sewerage commissioners and to express preferences for the person to be the presidential candidate for each party in a year in which electors for president and vice president are to be elected.

There has been no attempt to change this from nonpartisan to partisan.

Arkansas Legislative Year in Review: Extending terms for Clerks of Court; guns in courthouses; courthouse dogs for child witnesses

To appear on ballot

HJR 1027 (Constitutional Amendment) Extends terms for Clerk of Circuit Court from 2 years to 4 years. To appear on November 2016 ballot.

Law

HB 1193 Clarifies that district court fees shall be credited to the general fund of the county.

HB 1458 Repeals law held as unconstitutional that a judge removed from office through state’s judicial disciplinary process may never hold judicial office again.

HB 1456 Provides for mandatory suspension of a judge indicted or charged with a felony (currently optional suspension).

HB 1628 Provides deputy district court clerk employed by a city or county is governed by the employee handbook and policies of the city or county. Provides for cases where clerk is employed by multiple counties.

HB 1629 Requires District Court be held in each department of the district at least 1 time per month unless the city or town in which the department is located waives the requirement OR unless there are absolutely no cases to be heard.

HB 1855 Provides a “certified facility dog” may be allowed in court to stay with and assist child witnesses, subject to Supreme Court rule.

HB 1901 Implements November 2014 constitutional amendment. Extends various ethics laws to include judges and justices.

SB 159 Allows county employees and elected officials to carry guns into courthouses if they are employed in courthouse.