2011 Midwestern indigent defense legislation

Law

North Dakota HB 1023 Strikes provision that certain court fees must be used to contract for indigent defense.

North Dakota HB 1065 Clarifies that the cities are responsible for indigent defense services in all prosecutions for violations of city ordinances, whether in city court, district court, or on appeal.

Vetoed

Minnesota HB 988 Requires the court, prior to appointing a public defender, to inquire whether a prosecutor intends to certify a misdemeanor as a petty misdemeanor. Provides that if an offense is certified as a petty misdemeanor, a defendant would not be eligible for a public defender. Clarifies that only those persons with a statutory right to a public defender under law may request appointment of a public defender. Establishes criteria to determine eligibility for public defender representation based on the offense level charged and the defendant’s income: misdemeanor 125% of federal poverty guideline; gross misdemeanor 150%; felony 175%. Maintains current language allowing the court to also determine eligibility based on defendant’s ability to pay for private counsel with current income and liquid assets. Strikes language limiting applicant’s duty to disclose information about changes in financial circumstances that is only relevant to eligibility for a public defender; language that allows only the public defender representing the applicant to see information in the application; and language providing that the court has the sole duty to conduct a financial inquiry, not the public defender. Requires all district courts to use financial statement forms furnished by the state public defender. Authorizes the court to reduce the $75 copayment for public defender representation. Provides that the court shall not appoint a public defender if a defendant: is financially able to retain counsel but refuses to do so; refuses to execute the required financial statement or provide information; or waives appointment of a public defender. Provides that the chief appellate public defender represents persons pursuing an appeal or post-conviction relief and the district public defender represents persons in all other statutorily defined cases. Strikes language mandating continued representation of an arrested individual and maintains permissive language allowing the public defender discretion in such cases. Eliminates restrictions on how reimbursements collected from defendants may be used by a district public defender’s office. Adds language requiring a defendant who is or becomes able to make partial payments to reimburse the state for the cost of the public defender. Strikes language referring to reimbursement guidelines (which is repealed in section 9). Directs the court, in determining a defendant’s payment schedule, to consider the defendant’s financial statement application. Requires the court to evaluate a defendant’s ability to make partial payments if the court originally determined that the defendant was financially unable to afford counsel due to the private retainer fee. Provides that the Board of Public Defense must fund all items and services necessary to satisfy its obligations law. Provides that a county is not responsible for public defender costs, expect for costs currently paid by Hennepin County.

Active/Carried over in 2012

Michigan HB 4742 Creates statewide public defense commission. Require commission develop, implement, and administer public defense system. Specifies manner for attorney representation of indigent criminal and juvenile defendants and standards for the appointment of legal counsel.

Ohio HB 49 Provides that specified fees, costs, and fines that currently are deposited into the state treasury to the credit of funds that help pay for the defense of indigent criminal defendants be deposited instead into the municipal treasury to help compensate counsel appointed by the court to represent indigent defendants if the court that imposed the fees, costs, or fines is a municipal court that is not a county?operated municipal court and that appoints counsel for indigent defendants in a manner other than that in law.

Died in committee

Indiana HB 1454 Establishes a statutory right to counsel for a child who is alleged or adjudicated to be a child in need of services or the subject of a parent- child termination proceeding. Establishes the office of the state juvenile public defender. Provides for representation of indigent children in cases filed in a juvenile court under a plan developed by the office of the state juvenile public defender and approved by the supreme court. Provides for counties to distribute to the state the average net amount (after deducting certain reimbursements) that the counties spent for these services over a five year period.

Indiana HB 1456 Provides that if a person is represented by a public defender in a probation violation hearing and the court determines the person is able to pay for part of the costs of the representation, the court shall order the person to pay $100. Provides that a court may make a finding of ability to pay the costs of representation for a probation violation hearing.

Indiana SB 253 Specifies that 20% of the late surrender fees collected under the Indiana bail law must be deposited in the county supplemental public defender services fund. (see also SB 518)

Iowa HB 602 Provides that legal services for indigent persons contracted through the state public defender may be paid based on other than an hourly rate, including a fixed rate basis. Provides for the handling of appeals for indigent persons by the state appellate defender or by transfer of the case to a person under contract with the state public defender. Provides that the expenses of the public defender in determining the amount of restitution for a case include all expenses approved by the state public defender together with the attorney fees for the public defender. Specifies an exception to payment of fees for appointed counsel by the person filing or on whose behalf a petition for termination of parental rights is filed.

Kansas HB 2197 Allows a public defender to withdraw from a court-appointed case when the defender determines a conflict of interest exists or when the defender’s current caseload would preclude them from providing adequate representation to new or existing clients. Requires withdrawal be communicated to Chief Judge of the District Court. Provides any public defender, with the approval of the Executive Director of the State Board of Indigents Defense Services, would be allowed to accept misdemeanor or juvenile appointments not covered by contract or agreement in the district county of jurisdiction. Requires public defender keep a record of time spent on a case and submit the timesheet to the Executive Director of BIDS and the Clerk of the District Court of the county in which the case was heard.

Kansas HB 2305 Reduces the number of members of the State Board of Indigents Defense Services from nine to seven. Reduces the number of members required to be lawyers from five to four and the number required not to be lawyers from four to three. Allows a member to represent both a congressional district and a county with a population of over 100,000.

Minnesota HB 987 Eliminates restrictions on use of reimbursements received by the Board of Public Defense.

Minnesota SB 1027 Authorizing counties and contiguous county groups to withdraw from the statewide public defense system for a certain specified period and allowing renewal of election to withdraw. Requires state board of public defense and commissioner of management and budget notification. Requires withdrawing counties to agree to provide court-ordered representation of indigent people Requires advisory board formation for comprehensive plan development. Requires state board of public defense to transfer a portion of state funding to withdrawing counties. Requires continued chief appellate public defender continued representation in appeals.

Missouri SB 89 Abolishes the state public defender system and requires circuit courts to provide legal defense for indigents.

Nebraska LB 214 In those areas where public defenders are elected, converts election from partisan to nonpartisan.

North Dakota SB 2105 Requires Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents to provide legal counsel services to persons who refuse to retain their own counsel, if the court has determined that they are incompetent to represent themselves.

2011 Midwestern bail/pretrial release legislation

Law

Iowa SB 165 / SB 292 Provides that any fine, court costs, surcharge, or other penalty previously paid by the defendant, including an unsecured appearance bond, may be refunded to the defendant or upon subsequent conviction applied to the newly assessed fine, court costs, surcharge, or other penalty.

Illinois HB 1295 Provides that a municipality may impose a bail processing fee up to $20 against any person arrested for violating a bailable municipal ordinance or a State or federal law.

Indiana SB 590 Requires a judicial officer in setting bail to consider that the defendant is a foreign national who has not been lawfully admitted to the United States as relevant to the risk of nonappearance. Establishes certain bond requirements if bail is set for a defendant who is a foreign national unlawfully present in the United States.

Illinois HB 2581 Provides that the payment of the $75 fee assessed by the court against an accused upon his or her admission to bail for failure to appear in certain cases in which a court appearance is required shall be a condition of release unless otherwise ordered by the court. Provides that if the Department of State Police is the arresting agency, $70 of the fee assessed shall be remitted by the clerk of the court to the State Treasurer within one month after receipt for deposit into the State Police Operations Assistance Fund.

Kansas HB 2118 Allows courts, as a condition of bond release, to order offenders who are charged with a felony to submit to drug and alcohol abuse examinations. Gives courts the authority to impose the full amount of unpaid costs associated with the conditions of release of an appearance bond when a person has been found guilty of a crime.

Introduced with committee and/or floor approval

Kansas SB 176 Requires courts, when considering the release of a person on appearance bond, to take into account whether a defendant is lawfully present in the United States.

Missouri SB 387 Allows circuit court to adopt a local rule allowing for the pretrial release on electronic monitoring in lieu of confinement for anyone charged with a crime who can afford to pay the costs of electronic monitoring.

Introduced with committee rejection

n/a

Introduced with other or no activity

Indiana SB 40 Provides that an undertaking for bail expires 36 months after the undertaking is posted for the release of a defendant from custody if: (1) the defendant fails to appear as required; and (2) the court fails to make an adjudication concerning the defendant, including refusing to extradite the defendant; during the 36 month period. Requires sureties and bail agents to establish and maintain electronic mail addresses before June 1, 2011. Provides that if a defendant does not appear as provided in a bond and the court orders the bail agent and the surety to surrender the defendant to the court, the clerk may send notice of the order by electronic mail to the bail agent and surety. Reduces the amount of time that a surety and bail agent have to produce a defendant or provide a valid reason for the defendant’s failure to appear from 365 days to 180 days. Provides that a court must release the bail agent and surety from liability from a bond if a defendant is arrested before the court enters judgment on the forfeiture of the bond and the court has actual knowledge that the defendant was or is in the custody of the United States pending deportation from the United States. Changes the period used to assess late surrender fees against a surety and bail agent. Specifies the late surrender fee is equal to 80% of the face value of the bond. Provides that costs resulting from a defendant’s failure to appear may not be assessed against a bail agent or surety. Provides that the court in which a bond is posted retains late surrender fees instead of the fees being deposited in police pension trust funds and county extradition funds. Specifies that the retained fees must be used by a court to defray the costs of operating the court, extraditing criminal defendants, and operating diversion programs. Repeals the law establishing county extradition funds on July 1, 2013.

Indiana SB 518 Provides that every surety for the release on bail of a person who executes a bail bond by depositing cash or securities in an amount not less than 10% of the bail must be: (1) an insurer represented by a bail agent; or (2) a person who is at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, a resident of Indiana, related to the person for whom release on bail is sought within the third degree of affinity, and the owner of real or tangible personal property in Indiana with a net asset value that is acceptable to the authority approving the bond. Provides that, for purposes of the Indiana bail law, a cause is determined when: (1) a judgment of conviction or acquittal is entered; (2) judgment is withheld; or (3) the defendant has been ordered or admitted to a diversion program. Requires a court to waive a late surrender fee assessed against a bail agent or surety, or extend the period for payment beyond the statutorily permitted period, or both, if: (1) a written request is filed with the court and the prosecutor; and (2) the surety or bail agent provides evidence satisfactory to the court that diligent efforts were made to locate the defendant. Specifies that 40% of the late surrender fees collected under the Indiana bail law must be deposited in the police pension trust fund, 40% must be deposited in the county extradition fund, and the remaining 20% must be deposited in the county supplemental public defender services fund. Provides that if the combination of requirements a court imposes on a defendant to admit the defendant to bail includes the requirement that the defendant execute a bail bond with sufficient solvent sureties, the amount of the bail bond must be at least 50% of the total amount of the bail. Provides that if a person charged with a felony under IC 35-42 (offenses against the person) is admitted to bail, the person: (1) shall be admitted to bail by executing a bail bond with sufficient solvent sureties, depositing cash or securities in an amount equal to the bail, executing a bond secured by certain real estate, or posting a real estate bond; and (2) may not be admitted to bail under the statute that allows admission to bail by executing a bail bond by depositing cash or securities in an amount not less than 10% of the bail.

Kansas HB 2259 Requires magistrates to articulate certain findings when setting amounts of appearance bonds. Requires magistrates articulate the documentation that demonstrates the qualifications to allow a person to make a cash deposit for 10.0 percent of the bond. Provides if the magistrate does not have a factual basis for each of the qualifications, then the magistrate may not permit the bond deposit. Limits limit the conditions under which courts may determine that a person who has been charged with a crime may be released on the person’s own recognizance.

Minnesota HB 1502 / SB 1341 Provides anyone on e pretrial release to a county probation officer subject to unannounced searches by officer.

Missouri HB 159 Specifies that any person charged with a bailable nonviolent offense who does not post bail prior to his or her appearance before a judge may be placed on house arrest.

 

 


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.

Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions 2011: Midwestern States

Illinois HB 146 Caps the highest salary for annuity purposes, final rate of earnings, final average compensation, and final average salary for current members, participants, and participating employees of the Judges’ Retirement System at $106,800 (Current Circuit Judge’s Salary: $178,835), Authorizes that amount to be annually increased by the lesser of 3% or one-half of the annual percentage increase in the consumer price index-u. Requires employee contributions to also be based on these capped amounts.

Illinois HB 1447 Provides that, for persons who first become participants of Judges’ Retirement System after the effective date of the Act: (i) the automatic annual increases in participant and survivor annuities shall be at the rate of 3% or one-half the annual unadjusted percentage increase (but not less than zero) in the consumer price index-u, whichever is less, of the originally granted retirement annuity (rather than at the rate of 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the consumer price index-u, whichever is less, of the annuity then being paid) and (ii) the annual increases in highest salary for annuity purposes and final average salary shall be at the rate of the lesser of 3% or one-half the annual unadjusted percentage increase (but not less than zero) in the consumer price index-u (rather than at the rate of the lesser of 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the consumer price index-u).

Illinois HB 1959 Allows persons who first became or become members of Judges’ Retirement System on or after January 1, 2011 to elect to participate in a self-managed program of retirement benefits instead of the program of reformed retirement benefits currently offered. Provides that a self-managed plan shall authorize a participant to accumulate assets for retirement through a combination of employer and employee contributions that may be invested at the participant’s direction in mutual funds, collective investment funds, or other investment products and used to purchase annuity contracts. Requires the Judges’ Retirement System to make the self-managed plan available within 6 months after the effective date of the Act. Provides that, to the extent that the changes made by the Act are determined to be a new benefit increase under the new benefit increase provisions, the changes are exempt from the 5-year expiration provision.

Illinois HR 31 Urges the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to (i) competitively bid for an auditing firm to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded Pension and Retirement Systems, (ii) report the auditing firm’s findings to the General Assembly and Governor within 1 year after the adoption of the resolution, and (iii) publish the auditing firm’s findings on the COGFA website.

Illinois HR 101 Directs the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded retirement systems to discover (i) what the anticipated savings to those systems will be as a result of the pension reforms enacted last year and (ii) whether any employees or officers of those systems have made false or materially misleading public statements about those anticipated savings.

Illinois HR 149 Directs Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability study the impact of time and interest on the underfunding of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded retirement systems.

Illinois SB 29 For those already members of Judges’ Retirement System, adds provisions concerning the annuity rate of accrual, annuity calculations, automatic annual increases, and survivors’ annuities. With respect to later entrants (members who first become members on or after July 1, 2011), adds provisions concerning creditable service, conditions for eligibility, amount of annuities, automatic annual increases, survivors’ annuities, and refunds. Defines “salary”, “earnings”, “compensation”, and “wages” for periods of service on and after July 1, 2011 for any Judges’ Retirement System member.

Illinois SR 83 Urges the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to (i) competitively bid for an auditing firm to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded Pension and Retirement Systems, (ii) report the auditing firm’s findings to the General Assembly and Governor within 1 year after the adoption of the resolution, and (iii) publish the auditing firm’s findings on the COGFA website.

Indiana HB 1048 Establishes a defined contribution plan (plan) as an option for new state employees. A state employee who does not elect to become a member of the plan becomes a member of the public employees’ retirement fund (PERF). Requires the PERF board of trustees (PERF board) to establish the same investment options for the plan that are available for the investment of a PERF member’s annuity savings account. Provides that a member’s contribution to the plan is 3% of the member’s compensation and is paid by the state on behalf of the member. Provides that the state’s employer contribution rate for the plan is equal to the state’s employer contribution rate for PERF. Provides that the amount credited from the employer’s contribution rate to the member’s account shall not be greater than PERF’s normal cost with any amount not credited to the member’s account applied to PERF’s unfunded accrued liability. Establishes a minimum state employer contribution of 3% of the members’ compensation. Establishes a five year vesting schedule for employer contributions, and requires a member who terminates state employment before the member is fully vested to forfeit amounts that are not vested. Requires that the PERF board specify by rule the interest rate credited to a participant’s contributions for the judges’ retirement system. Provides that a judge or a magistrate who is a participant in the judges’ retirement system and who purchases prior PERF service credit waives credit for the PERF service only for the amount of PERF service purchased.  Urges the legislative council to assign to the pension management oversight commission the study of whether to create a defined contribution plan as an option for new employees of political subdivisions that participate in PERF and for new employees who are eligible to become members of the teachers’ retirement fund.

Indiana SB 12 Requires, after December 31, 2011, that an employer of participants in the judges’ retirement system submit contributions, reports, and records electronically. Authorizes the PERF board of trustees to establish due dates for contributions, reports, and records submitted by an employer.

Indiana SB 76 Requires that the board of trustees of the public employees’ retirement fund (PERF) specify by rule the interest rate credited to a participant’s contributions for: the judges’ retirement system. Provides that a judge or a magistrate who is a participant in the judges’ retirement system and who purchases prior service credit in PERF waives credit for the PERF service only for the amount of PERF service purchased.

Indiana SB 549 Establishes the Indiana public retirement system (system) to administer and manage judges’ retirement fund, public employees’ retirement fund, and either other funds. Provides that each retirement fund continues as a separate fund managed by the board. Creates a nine member board of trustees (board) for the system appointed by the governor (none need be judges). Establishes transition provisions for trustees/boards of other existing systems. Provides that new hires of the system become public employees’ retirement fund members, unless the system director expressly determines otherwise. Allows the board to establish contribution rate groups for PERF, and removes the requirement that each employer have a separate account within the retirement allowance account.

Nebraska LB 251 Increases court fees by $20. Directs some of additional funds to Retirement Fund for Judges.

Nebraska LB 509 Modifies language in the Judges Retirement Act to clarify that members receive the highest cost-of-living (COLA) method identified in current statutes. Creates new section in the Judges’ Retirement Act that reorganizes current cost-of-living provisions and places all the existing language into one section.

Nebraska LB 679 Provides all new judges elected/appointed after July 1, 2011 are members of the State Employees Retirement System (i.e the State Cash
Balance Plan,) instead of the current judges defined benefit plan.

North Dakota SB 2108 ORIGINAL: For judge’s retirement system, requires member contributions increase by one percent of the judge’s monthly salary beginning with the monthly reporting period of January 2012, and increase annually thereafter by an additional one percent, with the final increase taking place beginning with the reporting period of January 2015. AMENDED: Same, but changes January 2015 date to January 2013.

Wisconsin AB 11 (Special Session) (For prior blog post on subject, see here)

Citing Heller, Illinois legislators consider explicitly permitting judges to carry concealed firearms into courthouses

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which specifically found an individual right to keep and bear arms, has lead to a massive review of state statutes as they pertain to firearms. Illinois is no exception: it was the case of McDonald v. Chicago that applied Heller to the states via the 14th Amendment. For judges on a more personal level, however, Heller and McDonald may mean more discretion in carrying their own firearms into their courts.

At present, Illinois law and rules of court are relatively silent on whether judges explicitly may (or may not) bring firearms into courthouses or courtroom. The only apparently relevant statute is 720 ILCS 5/24-1. Sections (a) and (b) define the offense of unlawful use of weapons and provide for sentences depending on the particular actions. (a)(4)-(9) in particular deal with the carrying of firearms.

Section 720 ILCS 5/24-1(c) however provides enhanced sentences for carrying a firearm in public places, such as parks and courthouses (defined as “any building that is used by the Circuit, Appellate, or Supreme Court of this State for the conduct of official business.”). Illinois, unlike most states, does not provide elsewhere that such courthouse restrictions do not apply to judges.

HB 1403 and SB 2150, however, would modify the restrictions. Concealed firearms permits would not allow a person to carry into “Any courthouse solely occupied by the Circuit, Appellate, or Supreme Court or a courtroom of any of those courts, or court proceeding.” However “nothing in this Section shall preclude a judge, or State’s Attorney holding a concealed firearms permit, from carrying a concealed firearm within a courthouse.” (emphasis added)

Surrounding states take slightly different tacks with respect to courthouse carrying.

Missouri (§ 571.107 R.S.Mo.) bans firearms generally (and in the same section specifically exempts judges from the ban) in “Any courthouse solely occupied by the circuit, appellate or supreme court, or any courtrooms, administrative offices, libraries or other rooms of any such court whether or not such court solely occupies the building in question…The.. supreme court… may by rule..prohibit or limit the carrying of concealed firearms by endorsement holders in that portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by that unit of government.”

Kentucky’s (KRS § 237.110) has a similar clause banning generally the carrying of a firearm  in “Any courthouse, solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom, or court proceeding.” but then (KRS § 237.020) exempts active, retired, and senior status justices and judges with a handgun permit. In fact, Kentucky active, retired, and senior staus judges with a permit may carry “at all times and at all locations within the Commonwealth of Kentucky” exception detention facilities, which specifically “does not include courtrooms, facilities, or other premises used by the Court of Justice or administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts.”

Illinois HB 1403 is in the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee while SB 2150 is currently in the Senate Assignments Committee awaiting designation to a subject matter committee.

Boosting the minimum years admitted to the bar to be a judge

Several weeks ago we looked several states looking to do away with non-attorney judges. Other states are looking at increasing the minimum number of years an attorney must practice law (or at least be admitted to the bar) before becoming a judge. For example, Alabama in 2009 passed a law (SB 28) requiring a minimum number of years to serve on certain courts: 10 for the appellate courts (Supreme, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals), 5 for Circuit, 3 for District.

In 2010, Illinois, which currently requires only that a would-be jurist be admitted to the bar, is considering requiring (HCA 57)  a set number of years or practice before reaching certain courts: 15 years for their  Supreme Court, 12 for their Appellate Court, and 10 for their Circuit Court.

Also active this year, New Jersey is considering (SCR 83) increasing from 10 years to 15  its existing minimum  for the Supreme Court, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court (i.e. the state’s intermediate appellate court), and the Superior Court.