Illinois: new law requires posting in public areas of courthouses detailing how to file disciplinary complaints against trial judges

A bill in the Illinois House discussed here and here that would require courthouses have postings of how to file a disciplinary complaint against trial judges has been signed into law.

HB 3054 as filed contained 3 elements

  1. All Circuit Judges must announce that a person can file a complaint against him or her with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board prior to calling the first case of the day.
  2. The Clerk of the Circuit Court must make a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint form with instructions available.
  3. The Clerk must also post within each courtroom a notice that a person may file a complaint against the judge and that instructions for filing a complaint may be obtained from the clerk.

HB 3054 as amended and enacted removes Item 1 entirely and heavily modifies Items 2 and 3. The new bill provides

The clerk shall post in the common areas of the courthouse a notice that a person may file a complaint against the judge that includes contact information for the Judicial Inquiry Board. The Judicial Inquiry Board shall develop a uniform statewide notice and provide the format of the notice to each clerk.

HB 3054 has an effective date of January 1, 2018.

 

Illinois: House committee approves bill to require posting in public areas of courthouses how to file disciplinary complaints against trial judges

A bill in the Illinois House discussed here that would have required trial judges make an announcement on a daily basis in their court about the existence of the state’s judicial disciplinary body has been heavily amended.

HB 3054 as filed contained 3 elements

  1. All Circuit Judges must announce that a person can file a complaint against him or her with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board prior to calling the first case of the day.
  2. The Clerk of the Circuit Court must make a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint form with instructions available.
  3. The Clerk must also post within each courtroom a notice that a person may file a complaint against the judge and that instructions for filing a complaint may be obtained from the clerk.

HB 3054 as amended removes Item 1 entirely and heavily modifies Items 2 and 3. The new bill provides

  1. Circuit Court Clerks are to post in the common areas of the courthouse a notice a person may file a complaint against the judge that includes contact information for the Judicial Inquiry Board.
  2. The Judicial Inquiry Board shall develop a uniform statewide notice and provide the format of the notice to each clerk.

The posting requirement is similar to a 2008 Tennessee bill (HB 3906 / SB 4053) although that version would have placed the notice just outside the courtroom. The Tennessee plan was introduced but never taken up in either chamber.

This amended bill was approved by the House Judiciary – Civil Committee on a 11-0 vote and is currently pending on the House floor.

Special Edition: Illinois fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

HB 2591 AS APPROVED BY HOUSE STATE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE

  • Provides that a defendant who is an indigent person may petition the court for full or partial waiver of court assessments imposed under the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act. Sets percentages that may be waived based on level of indigence
  • Provides for 100% waiver if person is “indigent person”, defined as
    • He or she is receiving assistance under one or more of the following means-based governmental public benefits programs: Supplemental Security Income; Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; General Assistance; Transitional Assistance; or State Children and Family Assistance.
    • His or her available income is 200% or less of the current poverty level as established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, unless the applicant’s assets that are not exempt Code of Civil Procedure are of a nature and value that the court determines that the applicant is able to pay the assessments.
    • He or she is, in the discretion of the court, unable to proceed in an action with payment of assessments and whose payment of those assessments would result in substantial hardship to the person or his or her family.
  • Allows for partial based on sliding scale of indigence
    • 75% waiver if 250-300% of the poverty level
    • 50% waiver if 300-350% of the poverty level
    • 25% waiver if 351-400% of the poverty level
  • Requires clerk provide notice “If you are unable to pay the required assessments, you may ask the court to allow you to proceed without paying them. Ask the clerk of the court for forms.”

Approved as amended by House State Government Administration Committee 3/22/17.

Illinois: Bill expands 2012 Judicial Privacy Law to cover retired judges as well

In 2012 the Illinois legislature enacted HB 5877, the Judicial Privacy Act, to prevent the release of personal information related to judges and their immediate families, allowing “judicial officers…to administer justice fairly without fear of personal reprisal from individuals affected by the decisions they make in the course of carrying out their public function.”

The law defined the “judicial officers” covered to include federal and state judges. Retired judges of these courts were not covered. SB 1647 of 2017, as approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 8, would expand this coverage to include the “actively employed and retired” judicial officers of these courts.

SB 1647 has been placed on the Senate’s 2nd Reading Calendar.

Illinois: bill would require judges announce daily & clerks must post in courtrooms that a complaint can be filed against the judge with the judicial disciplinary commission

A bill introduced last week in the Illinois House would require judges make an announcement on a daily basis in their court about the existence of the state’s judicial disciplinary body (thanks to a Gavel to Gavel reader for the pointer).

HB 3054 as filed contains 3 elements

  1. All Circuit Judges must announce that a person can file a complaint against him or her with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board prior to calling the first case of the day.
  2. The Clerk of the Circuit Court must make a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint form with instructions available.
  3. The Clerk must also post within each courtroom a notice that a person may file a complaint against the judge and that instructions for filing a complaint may be obtained from the clerk.

The posting requirement is similar to a 2008 Tennessee bill (HB 3906 / SB 4053) although that version would have placed the notice just outside the courtroom. The Tennessee plan was introduced but never taken up in either chamber.

Illinois HB 3054 has been filed in the House Rules Committee.

NC: So how many other states/courts elect their appellate judges in a partisan manner? It’s complicated.

Amid the debate on SB 4 today and the decision to switch North Carolina’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals from nonpartisan to partisan races, there’s been a good amount of discussion of how many other states and appellate courts have partisan elections. Numbers have ranged widely. The reason for this is fairly straight forward in that for many states it is not a straight forward answer.

There are 8 states with 9 courts in which at one point or another justices of the supreme court/court of last resort show up with a party label somehow. It was 9 states with 10 courts until 2015 when West Virginia ended partisan races for their Supreme Court of Appeals.

  1. Alabama: partisan primaries and partisan general elections.
  2. Illinois: partisan primaries, partisan general elections but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the Illinois Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election, however to stay in office they need to get a 60% “yes to retain” vote.
  3. Louisiana: The state uses a “blanket primary” in which all candidates appear with party labels on the primary ballot. The two top votegetters compete in the general election. Thus in the general election, you could have two Republicans vying against each other for the seat, as occurred most recently in 2016 when Republican James “Jimmy” Genovese defeated fellow Republican Marilyn Castle for the 3rd Supreme Court District (Louisiana elects their justices by district, not statewide).
  4. Michigan: candidates for Supreme Court are nominated by political parties but the actual ballot in November is nonpartisan (i.e. no party labels).
  5. New Mexico: very complicated. When a vacancy occurs on the New Mexico Supreme Court, it is initially filled via merit selection (nominating commission sends list of names to governor, governor picks). The newly appointed justice must then run in a partisan primary and partisan general election but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the New Mexico Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election, however to stay in office they need to get a 57% “yes to retain” vote.
  6. Ohio: Partisan primaries, but nonpartisan general elections.
  7. Pennsylvania: partisan primaries, partisan general elections but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election (50% “yes to retain” to remain in office).
  8. Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, including their appellate courts. Texas has two “courts of last resort”: the Supreme Court for civil matters and the Court of Criminal Appeals. Both courts use partisan primaries and partisan general elections.

Illinois: even more bills to allow judges & prosecutors to bring guns into courthouses filed

The latest is a series of legislative efforts to life the ban on judges and others from carrying guns into courthouses (other bills discussed here and here) have been filed. These latest efforts, like prior bills, continue to make a distinction between courthouse and courtroom carry.

Current law provides for a broad ban on guns in courthouses. HB 5713 would amended the criminal statutes (720 ILCS 5/24-2) to allow for courthouse carry for

  1. a retired law enforcement office
  2. the Attorney General or assistant Attorney General with the consent of the Attorney General
  3. State’s Attorney or assistant State’s Attorney with the consent of the State’s Attorney
  4. State court judge, or retired State court judge

The chief judge (Circuit Court) or presiding judge (Appellate Court) or the Chief Justice (Supreme Court) would only be able to issue restrictions or prohibitions on carrying into courtrooms.

SB 3006 effectively repeats SB 1637 as introduced: a judge, State’s Attorney or assistant State’s Attorney who has a concealed carry firearm license could carry into the courthouse but not a courtroom. The judge or prosecutor seeking to enter into the courtroom would be required to put the weapon into a locker provided by the sheriff or, if the building was controlled by the judiciary, the presiding judge.