Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to examine criminal records access & sharia/international law ban

The Georgia House’s Judiciary Non-Civil Committee is going to be busy next week. I mentioned they are looking at indigent defense, but the latest information indicates they will also look who has access to criminal records. The latest information shows they’ll be active on other bills as well.

On August 17 they’ll be looking at HB 402, as approved by the same House committee in regular session, changes the provisions related to

  • disclosure and dissemination of criminal records to private persons and businesses
  • inspection, purging, modifying, or supplementing of criminal records
  • when a child may be fingerprinted or photographed and confidentiality of information

On August 18* the topic will be HB 242, one of the state’s three bills seeking to ban use or reference to international law/sharia law I’ve been tracking this year (the others are HB 45 and  SB 51).  HB 242 reads, in relevant part:

“‘foreign law’ means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories…A court, administrative agency, or other tribunal shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.”

This meeting takes place only days after the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution against such legislation (click here for my post on that effort).

*August 18 update: In a surprise move, the committee meeting set for today has been cancelled. It is unclear why.

Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to examine constitutional amendment related to indigent defense funding August 16

Georgia’s House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will meet on August 16. On the agenda is a discussion of HR 977 of 2011 which under Georgia’s carry-over rules will b e active in the 2012 session as well. It adds Article III, Section IX, Paragraph VI, subparagraph (o) to the Constitution of Georgia as follows:

(o) The General Assembly may provide by general law that certain existing fees and assessments be dedicated for the purpose of funding legal services for indigent persons accused of crimes and delinquent acts. Revenues dedicated pursuant to this subparagraph shall not lapse as required by Article III, Section IX, Paragraph IV(c) and shall not be subject to the limitations of subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph or of Article VII, Section III, Paragraph II.

HB 648 of 2011 implements HR 997, adding 15 places in existing law that a particular fee, fine, or funding source is pursuant to “Article III, Section IX, Paragraph VI, subparagraph (o) of the Constitution of Georgia” as well as other related changes.

Set to testify are representatives of the Governor, the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, the State Bar of Georgia and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: ABA House of Delegates opposes “blanket prohibitions”, state legislatures out of session

This post has been updated. Click here.

Earlier today, the American Bar Association House of Delegates approved Resolution 113A:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association opposes federal or state laws imposing blanket prohibitions on consideration or use by courts or arbitral tribunals of foreign or international law.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association opposes federal or state laws imposing blanket prohibitions on consideration or use by courts or arbitral tribunals of the entire body of law or doctrine of a particular religion.

Clearly geared towards efforts to ban court use of sharia/international law, the resolution comes at a time when the state legislatures are out of session and silent. Since the July update, no legislative activity has occurred, although the Michigan bill remains technically pending (the legislature sits year-round).

Full roster of 49 bills introduced in 2011 in 22 states and their statuses after the jump.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: ABA House of Delegates opposes “blanket prohibitions”, state legislatures out of session

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Michigan becomes 22nd state to consider, Texas House tries again to get Senate to adopt

This post has been updated. Click here.

With Alabama, Iowa, and North Carolina all set to adjourn in June, it looked as if there would not be any additional sharia/international law bans introduced or debated in 2011. However, in mid-June Michigan introduced a bill (HB 4769) co-sponsored by 42 of 63 Michigan House Republicans that copied much of the language from the versions introduced in Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, South Dakota, and West Virginia, in particular the use of the term “informal tribunals” or “informal administrative body” in all of these versions, something that does not appear in the others.

Meanwhile, Texas in its special session reintroduced one of theirs from the regular session. I went into the details of the legislative machinations in May in Texas in my last update. In sum, the ban was limited to family law/Family Code cases by a House committee (HB 911), was added onto the “losers pays” tort reform bill at the last minute on the House floor (Amendment #6 to HB 274), and stripped out by a Senate committee.

June proved to be a repeat of May’s efforts. The original HB 79A, a bill for the implementation of the judiciary budget, did not include the ban. Instead, it was again floor amended in (Amendment #12), over the objections of a least one member of the House who attempted to have the amendment ruled not germane to the bill. The amendment was ruled germane and adopted on a 105-29-2 vote. Once again, a Senate committee (this time the Jurisprudence Committee) stripped the provision out and the bill was sent to the governor without the ban on June 29.

Full roster of 49 bills introduced in 2011 in 22 states and their statuses after the jump.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Michigan becomes 22nd state to consider, Texas House tries again to get Senate to adopt

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 38 of 47 bills died or rejected this session; only 1 enacted into law

This post has been updated. Click here.

With most state legislatures going out of session, May proved to relatively inactive for bills seeking to ban court use of sharia/international law. In the May update (located here) there were 44 bills in 21 states. In June, the number of bills climbed to 47 in 21 states. As of today, the status of the 47 breaks down as follows:

38 died due to adjournment or had been rejected by their respective legislatures.

1 was signed into law (Arizona’s HB 2064 on April 12).

8 remain at least theoretically active: 4 in Alabama; 3 in Iowa; 1 in North Carolina.

Texas was the focus of much of the May activity. On May 9, the text of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence ban (HB 911) approved in April was floor-amended (Amendment #6) into the so-called “loser pays” tort reform bill (HB 274). This version, as amended in committee, was much more limited than others and specified it applied in matters “arising under the Family Code” only and then only if “the application of that [foreign] law would violate a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the constitution or a statute of this state.” Amendment 6 was approved by a 112-31 vote in the House, but was removed by the Senate State Affairs committee and failed to be enacted when the final version of HB 274 was signed into law May 30.

Meanwhile, on (May 10) the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty advanced a broader version (HB 1240) of a sharia/international law ban

“foreign or international law or doctrine” means a law, rule, legal code, or principle of a jurisdiction outside the legal traditions of the states and territories of the United States, including international laws, that do not have a binding effect on this state or the United States…A court, arbitrator, or administrative adjudicator may not base a ruling or decision on: (1) a foreign or international law or doctrine; or (2) a prior ruling or decision that was based on a foreign or international law or doctrine.

HB 1240 proceeded to the House Calendars committee, where it died when the legislature adjourned.

Full roster of bills introduced in 2011 and their status after the jump.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 38 of 47 bills died or rejected this session; only 1 enacted into law

Zero-based budgeting: Coming soon to a judicial branch near you?

The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) defines zero-based budgeting as a system that

subjects all programs, activities and expenditures to justification (in contrast to incremental budgeting). Funding requests, recommendations and allocations for existing and new programs are usually ranked in priority order on the basis of alternative service levels, which are lower, equal to and higher than current levels. This process can be used in conjunction with either line-item budgeting and/or program budgeting.

According to NASBO in 2008, 17 states use ZBB or “modified” ZBB for at least some state funding.

ZBB was and is under active consideration by several states this year, with many such bills explicitly applying to the state’s judicial branches. Among the most active is Minnesota’s SB 1047, which would put the state’s judicial branch budget under ZBB starting in the July 2013 biennial budget. Minnesota proponents argue that it ensures the state lives within its means and does not have unnecessary spending. Opponents counter ZBB is backwards: it is needs that should be identified first, then figuring out the funding.

Other bills that would move the state’s courts to ZBB include:

Active

Massachusetts SB 1619 Requires zero based budgeting “for each agency and department of state government.” In Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

Minnesota HB 2 Applies zero based budgeting to all judicial branch budgets starting with the July 2013 biennium. Approved by House Government Operations and Elections Committee 1/31/11. Approved by State Government Finance Committee 4/28/11. In House Ways and Means Committee.

Minnesota HB 577 Applies zero based budgeting to all judicial branch budget starting with the July 2013 biennium. In House Ways & Means Committee

Minnesota SB 76 Requires judiciary and other branches use zero-based budgets. In House Government Operations and Elections Committee.

New Jersey AB 1201 Requires Judicial Branch make use of  certain zero-based budgeting practices and procedures and specifies 10 items to be submitted to State Treasurer and the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting. In Assembly Budget Committee.

New Jersey SB 344 Requires Judicial Branch make use of  certain zero-based budgeting practices and procedures and specifies 10 items to be submitted to State Treasurer and the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting. In Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

South Carolina HB 3215 Provides House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will implement a zero-base budget review process as part of the annual appropriations process beginning with appropriations for fiscal year 2012-2013 for all elements of judicial branch. In House Committee on Ways and Means.

South Carolina SB 15 Provides House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will implement a zero-base budget review process as part of the annual appropriations process. Provides such reviews would begin for judiciary in FY 2014-2015. In Senate Committee on Finance.

South Carolina HB 3528 Provides House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will implement a zero-base budget review process as part of the annual appropriations process. Provides such reviews would begin for judiciary in FY 2014-2015. In House Committee on Ways and Means.

Previously active, dead for session

Georgia HB 33 Requires zero-base budgeting for most state agencies. Encourages but does not require judicial branch participate in the zero-base budgeting process proposed in bill. Approved by full House 4/13/11.

Georgia SB 33 Requires zero-base budgeting for most state agencies. Encourages but does not require judicial branch participate in the zero-base budgeting process proposed in bill. “Encourages” language amended out. See HB 33.

Minnesota SB 3 Requires judiciary and other branches use zero-based budgets. Amended into SB 1047.

Montana HB 343 Provides for “partial” zero-based budgets in judicial branch and other branches/agencies. Approved by full House 3/24/11. Tabled in Senate Finance and Claims Committee 4/6/11.

Inactive, dead for session

Illinois SB 1212 requires for fiscal year 2013 and beyond zero-based budgeting for the judicial branch and all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Executive Ethics Commission. No hearings held.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Law in Arizona, bills advance in Missouri and Texas, failing in most states

This post has been updated. Click here.

In the April update (located here) there were 44 bills in 21 states seek to ban court use of sharia/international law. There have been no new bills, but almost all existing ones have either died or failed to advance in the last several weeks. As of today, the status of the 44 break down as follows:

20 died due to adjournment or had been rejected by their respective legislatures.

11  failed to make it out of committee in their originating house before the legislature’s internal deadline.

1 failed to make it out of committee in the second house before the legislature’s internal deadline (Oklahoma HB 1552).

1 was signed into law (Arizona’s HB 2064 on April 12).

11 remain at least theoretically active.

Of the active, only three moved in the last month.

  • Texas: One of the House bills was approved in committee, but with a massive shift in wording. HB 911 was originally a broad-based ban on the use of foreign law “if the application of that law would violate a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the constitution of this state.” As amended, however, the ban applies only “on a matter arising under the Family Code.” As amended, the bill passed the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence on April 18.
  • Missouri: The House approved one of its versions (HB 708). The Senate committee scrapped the House bill in favor of its own (SB 308).

Both use the same definition of “foreign law”

As used in this section, “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including but not limited to international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals.

Both use nearly identical wording for what is banned (differences in bold).

House: Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable if such court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the constitutions of this state and the United States.

Senate: Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States and Missouri constitutions.

The big difference appears to be in the provisions related to contracts. The Senate version waives the ban on the use of “foreign law” where the clause is “capable of segregation” from the rest of the contract.

Minor differences include a provision in the House version that declares “The general assembly fully recognizes the right to contract freely under the laws of this state, and also recognizes that this right may be reasonably and rationally circumscribed in accordance with the state’s interest to protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the constitutions of this state and the United States.” Moreover, the House version would amend Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 1 (Laws in Force and Construction of Statutes) while the Senate version adds to Chapter 506 (Commencement of Actions and General Provisions).

Full roster of bills introduced in 2011 and their status after the jump.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Law in Arizona, bills advance in Missouri and Texas, failing in most states

Bans on court use of sharia/international law advance in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

Welcome New York Times readers!

This post has been updated. Click here.

In the March update (located here) there were 42 bills introduced in 2011 in 20 states seeking to ban court use of sharia/international law. That number is now up to 44 bills in 21 states.

  • Arizona’s “new” bill was really a strike-all amendment to a completely unrelated bill HB 2064. The resulting bill was approved April 7 and is currently sitting on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk.
  • North Carolina HB 640 was introduced April 5 and is currently pending in the House Committee on Judiciary, Subcommittee C.

In addition to Arizona, bills in 6 other states advanced out of their committees or chambers, including Alabama SB 61 and SB 62, Alaska HB 88,  Florida SB 1294, Kansas HB 2087, Missouri HB 708, and Oklahoma HB 1552. Additionally, hearings were conducted in Texas and Missouri. All 2011 activity is in bold below the fold.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law advance in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions 2011: Southern States

Alabama HB 414 Provides for increases in employee contributions for retirement to Judicial Retirement Fund:  7.25% of salary (May 2011 – October 2011); 8.4% (October 2011 – October 2012); 9% (October 2012 onward).

Florida HB 1139 & SB 290 Provides after July 2011, all judges/justices are to receive judicial retirement credit of 2% (currently 3.33%) of average final compensation for each year of creditable service as a judge/justice.

Florida HB 1405 Changes employer contribution rates for judges/justices from 20.65% to 7.26%. Reduces the disability rate for justices and judges to one third of his or her monthly compensation. AMENDED: Changes employer contribution rates for judges/justices from 20.65% to 15.19%. Establishes additional employer contribution rates for the purpose of funding the unfunded actuarial liabilities: 0.39% (effective July 2011) and 12.05% (effective July 2012). Removes reduction and maintains the current disability benefit for justices and judges.

Georgia HB 250 Provides Georgia Judicial Retirement System member who rejected survivor’s benefits may elect such benefits by paying the actuarial cost. For those becoming members allows one-time election to convert the retirement allowance otherwise payable to him or her into a modified retirement allowance of equivalent actuarial value and designate a natural person to receive. Provides for the event of death or divorce of member of system and for the payment of the remainder of a member’s accumulated contributions.

Georgia HB 344 Provides juvenile court judges and other members of Georgia Judicial Retirement System may obtain creditable service for prior service as a full-time associate juvenile court judge.

Georgia HB 533 Permits transfer of funds from the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia to the Georgia Judicial Retirement System by judges and to obtain creditable service. Expands transfer of funds authority to include juvenile court judges.

Georgia HB 542 Permits transfer of funds from the Georgia Judicial Retirement System to the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia and to obtain creditable service. Expands transfer of funds authority to include juvenile court judges.

Kentucky HB 480 ORIGINAL: Requires members of the Judicial Form Retirement System and other specified retirement systems who are not subject to legislative or judicial branch code of ethics shall be subject to the executive branch code of ethics. Requires the audit of the Judicial Form Retirement System by the Auditor of Public Accounts at least once every five years and require the system to pay all costs of the audit. Prohibits members of the Judicial Form Retirement System from serving more than three consecutive terms of office on the board and prohibits the board chairman from serving more than six consecutive years as chairman. Prohibits assets of the Judicial Form Retirement System from being used to pay placement agents. Requires the Judicial Form Retirement System to make system expenditures and employee salaries available on a Web site. Establishes conflict-of-interest provisions applicable to trustees and employees of the Kentucky Judicial Form Retirement System. AMENDED: Deletes measures affecting the Judicial Form Retirement System board term limits, board chair term limits, expand or establish conflicts of interest requirements for board members and employees of the board; require the Auditor of Public Accounts to conduct the system financial audit.

Kentucky SB 2 Closes Judicial Retirement Plan to new members effective July 1, 2012. Allows those in Judicial Retirement Plan with less than 5 years of service to transfer their membership and account balance to the Public Employees Retirement System.

Maryland SB 6 Provides that, on or after July 1, 2011, an individual not already a member of the Judges’ Retirement System may not join.

Maryland SB 735 Provides that, on or after July 1, 2011, an individual not already a member of the Judges’ Retirement System may not join.

Mississippi HB 464 & SB 2154 Includes all remuneration or amounts paid (except mileage allowance) to Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals as “earned compensation” for retirement fund purposes.

Oklahoma HB 1005 Creates the Task Force on Pension Benefit Funding and Security to examine Judges and Justice Retirement System and other systems.

Oklahoma HB 1006 Creates Task Force on Pension Benefit Funding and Security to examine judge’s retirement system and other retirement systems.

Oklahoma HB 1010 AS AMENDED: Modifies provisions related to normal retirement age for members entering the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges on or after January 1, 2012. Eliminates the provision whereby a member with 8 years of judicial service may retire when the sum of their age and years of service equals or exceeds 80. Decreases the multiplier used to calculate the retirement benefit for members entering  on or after January 1, 2012 from 4% to 2%.

Oklahoma HB 2057 Prohibits cost of living adjustment for Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges unless system has a funded ratio which equals or exceeds85%

Oklahoma HB 2132 Modifies judicial and other retirement systems funding ratios and cost of living adjustments. Changes the definition of a “nonfiscal retirement bill” by removing the provision that allows a cost-of-living increase to be considered nonfiscal. Stipulates that any retirement bill having a fiscal impact is subject to the statutory requirements related to concurrent funding.

Oklahoma SB 53 Eliminates provision allowing up to five years of prior military service to be entered as credit towards the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges.

Oklahoma SB 310 Creates the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges Reform Act of 2011 (placeholder).

Oklahoma SB 311 Creates the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges Reform Act of 2011 (placeholder).

Oklahoma SJR 19 (Constitutional Amendment) Requires the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges to have a funded ratio which equals or exceeds 90%.

South Carolina HB 3568 & SB 531 Closes state retirement system for judges and solicitors to future judges and requires they enroll in state’s retirement investment plan instead.

Tennessee HB 1622SB 1498 Revises retirement provisions for general sessions judges from Group 1 to Group 4 level.

Texas HB 390 & SB 1223 Modifies service retirement annuity for appellate judges under the Judicial Retirement System Plan Two.

Mid-session update: 42 bills in 20 states seek to ban court use of sharia/international law (with list and links)

Welcome ABA Journal readers! This post has been updated, here.

We are about half way through the 2011 state legislative season and so far there have been 42 bills in 2011 to ban or otherwise restrict court references or use to sharia/international law.

Prior 2011 posts on the subject can be found here, here, and here.

Below is an update on the current (as of 3/14/11) status of such efforts. Hearings coming up this week include Alaska HB 88, Missouri HB 708, Missouri SB 308, and Nebraska LB 647.

Interestingly, some of the most recently filed bills (Iowa HB 489 filed March 2;  Maine HB 811 filed March 15; West Virginia HB 3220 filed February 21) now provide that foreign law cannot be the “primary factor which a court…shall consider”.

Continue reading Mid-session update: 42 bills in 20 states seek to ban court use of sharia/international law (with list and links)