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

Budget woes cause Michigan Court of Appeals to shrink

For the second time in 3 years, a concerted effort has been made to shrink the size of the Michigan Court of Appeals. This time, it appears to have worked. (For news coverage, click here).

Citing budget cuts and a declining case filings, the State Court Administrative Office had already gone on record as recommending a 24 judge Court of Appeals in 2007 and 2009. Current law (MCL 600.301), however, gives the court 28 judges, 7 judges in each of 4 districts (MCL 600.302).

The line-item portion of the state’s budget related to judicial salaries (Section 105 of HB 4526 of 2011) signed into law June 22 lists “Court of appeals judges’ salaries—26.0 judges” and, according to the fiscal analysis attached to the bill there will be the “Elimination of Court of Appeals Judgeships” for a savings of  $342,600.

There are already two vacancies (one judge resigned, the other was named to the supreme court) the governor had already previously declined to fill.

The earlier effort in 2008 was part of a larger package of changes. From Issue 4:14 of Gavel to Gavel

An effort to reduce the size of the Supreme Court was proposed in Michigan in 2008. The Reform Michigan Government Now proposal was ostensibly to help ease the state’s budget crises by reducing the size of the state’s legislature, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals. However, a PowerPoint presentation left on the website of a local union explained the purpose of removing 2 of the then 7 serving Supreme Court justices and 8 of the 28 Court of Appeals was to ensure Democrat-friendly redistricting rulings after the 2010 U.S. Census (the 2 justices to be removed were Republicans; most of the 8 judges to be removed were appointed by a Republican governor). The initiative was eventually killed when the state’s Supreme Court held that the initiative failed to meet certain constitutional criteria for initiatives.

 

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

Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions 2011: Western States

California SB 503 Limits to one-time written election the option of a member of the The Judges’ Retirement System II to make contributions, and receive service credit for, all of the time he or she served as a full-time subordinate judicial officer, prior to becoming a judge, excluding any period of time for which the judge is receiving, or is entitled to receive, a retirement allowance from any other public retirement system. Authorizes the judge to make contributions to, and receive service credit for, any number of whole years or all of the time he or she served as a full-time subordinate judicial officer.

Hawaii HB 1038 Amends retirement benefits for judges and other state/county employees who become members of the employees’ retirement system after June 30, 2012. Modifies extent to which prior service as a judge may be applied to other retirement system(s) and calculation of years of service for retirement purposes.

Hawaii HB 1142 Amends retirement benefits for judges and other state/county employees who become members of the employees’ retirement system after June 30, 2012. Modifies extent to which prior service as a judge may be applied to other retirement system(s) and calculation of years of service for retirement purposes.

Hawaii SB 1265 Amends retirement benefits for judges and other state/county employees who become members of the employees’ retirement system after June 30, 2012. Modifies extent to which prior service as a judge may be applied to other retirement system(s) and calculation of years of service for retirement purposes.

Hawaii SB 1341 Amends retirement benefits for judges and other state/county employees who become members of the employees’ retirement system after June 30, 2012. Modifies extent to which prior service as a judge may be applied to other retirement system(s) and calculation of years of service for retirement purposes.

Michigan HB 4223 Requires Judges Retirement System invest at least 5% in Michigan businesses.

Michigan  HB 4484 Eliminates tax exemption for judicial pensions. Provides that distributions from employer contributions, earnings on those contributions, and distributions from employee contributions and earnings on those employee contributions would be subject to state tax, as of January 1, 2012. (Currently, they are exempt from state, county, municipal, or other local taxes.) Requires an employer to contribute four percent of salary to a participant’s Tier 2 (defined contribution system) account. Allows an employee to contribute up to three percent of salary to the account and requires the employer to match the amount contributed by the employee.

Minnesota HB 1256 & SB 813 Changes member contribution rates for judicial retirement system: 8% (present – July 2011), 11% (July 2011 onward). Changes employer contribution rates for judicial retirement system: 20.5% (present – July 2011), 17.5% (July 2011 onward).

Montana HB 70 Requires separate investment fund must be maintained for judges’ retirement system apart from any other retirement system.

Montana HB 608 Closes judicial and all other retirement systems and provide for annuity benefit program for judges elected after July 2012.

Nevada SB 436 Transfers the responsibility to deposit certain money for the purpose of paying pension benefits to justices of the Supreme Court or district judges from the State of Nevada to the Court Administrator.

New Mexico HB 58 ORIGINAL: Provides that certain amounts of the civil docket and jury fees be deposited into the General Fund. Provides contributions to judicial and magistrate retirement be provided from the General Fund. Increases contributions to judicial and magistrate retirement funds. AMENDED: Same, but strikes existing law that defines “judicial retirement fund” as including” docket and jury fees of metropolitan courts, district courts, the court of appeals and the supreme court.”

New Mexico HB 468 Makes numerous temporary and permanent changes to employee and employer contribution rates for those under Judicial Retirement Act and Magistrate Retirement Act plans.

New Mexico HB 628 Makes numerous temporary and permanent changes to employee and employer contribution rates for those under Judicial Retirement Act and Magistrate Retirement Act plans.

New Mexico SB 88 Makes numerous temporary and permanent changes to employee and employer contribution rates for those under Judicial Retirement Act and Magistrate Retirement Act plans.

New Mexico SB 248 Makes numerous temporary and permanent changes to employee and employer contribution rates for those under Judicial Retirement Act and Magistrate Retirement Act plans.

New Mexico SB 268 Makes numerous temporary and permanent changes to employee and employer contribution rates for those under Judicial Retirement Act and Magistrate Retirement Act pla

E-signed and e-delivered, but not e-sealed?

Signed, sealed and delivered is more than a Stevie Wonder song, it represents the attestation of an action or record of a court dating back centuries. Technology, however, has outpaced the days of wax and impressions. For that reason, several state legislatures have had to go back and change the laws of their states to allow their courts more latitude. Legislatures in Oklahoma (HB 2253 of 2004), Iowa (HB 579 of 2009), and Michigan (SB 720 of 2010)  all authorized all courts in their state to e-seal. Texas in 2007 (SB 229) gave its district court the authority to create a seal electronically, thus allowing the courts to transfer, store, and locate documents with greater efficiency.

This year, Nevada enters into the e-seal fray. SB 6 authorizes the electronic reproduction of the seal of a court (current law requires either impressing the seal on the document or impressing the seal on a substance attached to the document). The bill is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Cross-posted at Court Technology Bulletin blog

Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions: Midwestern States

Indiana HB 1205 AMENDMENT TO BILL: Establishes the Indiana public retirement system to administer and manage the Judges’ Retirement Fund and nine other retirement funds. Creates an 11-member board of trustees for the system. Provides that each retirement fund continues as a separate fund managed by the board. Amendment approved by Senate 2/23/10. House rejected amendment.

Indiana SB 298 Establishes the Indiana public retirement system to administer and manage the Judges’ Retirement Fund and nine other retirement funds. Creates an 11-member board of trustees for the system. Provides that each retirement fund continues as a separate fund managed by the board. Approved by full Senate 2/2/10.

Indiana SB 397 Establishes the Indiana public retirement system to administer and manage the Judges’ Retirement Fund and nine other retirement funds. Creates an 11-member board of trustees for the system. Provides that each retirement fund continues as a separate fund managed by the board. Approved by Senate Committee on Pensions and Labor 1/28/10.

Indiana SB 98 Eliminates references to the Treasurer of State’s duties concerning the Judges’ Retirement System and other named retirement funds. Approved by full Senate 1/19/10.

Michigan HB 4073 Creates an irrevocable trust for each of the State’s five retirement systems, including the judges retirement act of 1992,  pursuant to Section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 USC 115. Approved by full House 3/4/09. Approved by Senate Appropriations Committee 12/19/09.

Michigan HB 4078 Amends the Judges Retirement Act to specify that, as of July 1, 2009, the Department of Management and Budget would be responsible for authorizing and administering the group retiree health insurance plan (hospitalization and medical coverage) and dental and vision plan.  (Currently this is a function of the Civil Service Commission, which has recently become an autonomous entity within DMB since the abolition of the Department of Civil Service in 2007.)  Approved by full House 3/4/090. In Senate Appropriations Committee.

Michigan SB 132 Amends law related to the health insurance premium payments under the Judges Retirement Act:  For participants with four years of service, the State is required to pay 50% of the cost of health insurance coverage by eliminating health care coverage for retired judges and elected officials specified in the bill who are elected after November 1, 2010. Specifies this elimination would not have an impact on currently elected or appointed officials, but would be prospective by affecting those elected or appointed after November 1, 2010. Approved by full Senate 2/24/10.

Nebraska LB 403 Prohibits participation in the Judges Retirement System unless the employees is a U.S. citizen of qualified alien lawfully present in the U.S. Signed into law by Governor 4/8/09.

Nebraska LB 414 Provides that from  July 1, 2009, until July 1, 2014, a judge shall contribute an additional one percent of his or her monthly compensation to the judges retirement fund. Increases fund fee from $5 to $6 during same period. Signed into law by Governor 5/19/09.