State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: New Mexico

Bills affecting the courts approved by the New Mexico legislature subsequently vetoed by the governor in 2011 included:

HB 285 Adds magistrate judge and additional member of public to judicial standards commission. Pocket vetoed.

SB 166 Increases appellate docket fees from $125 to $225. Creates the Appellate Transcription Fund to indigent appeals. Provides appellate docket fees to go to Fund (currently, docket fees are allocated to the Supreme Court Automation Fund and the Metro and Magistrate Court Facilities Fund.) Vetoed.

SB 277 Increases magistrate courts operations fee applied to certain convictions from $4.00 to $7.00. Vetoed.

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the New Mexico legislature in 2011, plus a constitutional amendment to appear on the 2012 ballot, include the following:

HB 58 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. 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.”

HB 275 Provides for magistrate courts in counties over 250,000 (currently 200,000). Allows magistrates to had GED in lieu of high school diploma. Removes requirement that in counties over a certain population magistrate must be attorney.

HJR 18 (Constitutional Amendment) Adds magistrate judge and additional member of public to judicial standards commission.

HM 12 Requires interim legislative committee(s) studying tudy moving the duties of the adult probation and parole division of the corrections department, as they relate to monitoring persons on probation to the judicial branch of government.


State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: West Virginia

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the West Virginia legislature in 2011 include the following:

HB 2461 / SB 61 Provides juvenile drug courts shall be designed and operated consistent with the developmental and rehabilitative needs of juveniles. Authorizes the Supreme Court to appoint hearing officers for juvenile drug courts.

HB 2464 Requires Ethics Commission publish on the Internet all financial disclosure statements filed members of and candidates for the Supreme Court of Appeals starting in 2012.

HB 2879 Increases judicial and salaries of other government officials/employees.

SB 96 Authorizes State Auditor in conjunction with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to establish in-service training programs for circuit clerks and their assistants and employees.

SB 428 Increases and reallocates certain circuit court fees

State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: Utah

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Utah legislature in 2011 include the following:

HB 21 Changes some reports required of the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Judicial Council to be provided at the option of the Judiciary Interim Committee.

HB 74 Changes the retention election requirements for municipal justice court judges entire county to the municipality where the judge sits. Clarifies that a justice court judge standing for retention in more than one location who is retained in one location and not retained in another does not lose both offices.

HB 2001 (2nd Special Session) Provides Justice court judges who are employed part-time on July 1, 2012 are to be evaluated by the criteria established before the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission was established. Provides Justice court judges who are employed full-time on July 1, 2012 are to be evaluated by the criteria established when the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission was created in 2008.

HB 376 Allows a defendant in an action in district court to remove it to small claims court if it fits the jurisdictional amounts.

HB 477 Prohibits a court from releasing certain protected records via means of a balancing test unless it is determined, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the public interest favoring access to the record outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access to the record.

SB 143 Makes numerous changes to state’s justice courts. Permits a person to be a candidate for more than one justice court judge office. Requires an appointee or a candidate to more than one justice court office to pay a filing fee for each office and identify on the declaration of candidacy all of the courts included in the general election. Allows a declaration of candidacy in one county to be valid in any other county in which the candidate may be appointed or elected. Requires the ballot title to include the name of a court created by interlocal agreement. Removes the requirement that all registered voters in a county vote in the retention election of a county justice court judge. Removes the requirement that the governing bodies of a county and a municipality within that county both concur when a justice court judge is permitted to hold office as both a county and a municipal justice court judge. Allows any court, without a jury, to determine questions of fact and law and any constitutional issue presented in the pleadings. Removes the authorization for a justice court judge to order administrative traffic checkpoints and issue search warrants.

SB 212 Allows the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission to vote in a closed meeting on whether or not to recommend that the voters retain a judge. Removes litigants from the judicial performance evaluation survey. Reduces the number of categories to be included in the performance evaluation survey. Allows survey respondents to supplement responses to survey questions with written comments. Establishes a clear minimum performance standard. Establishes that the judicial performance evaluation survey is to be reported in three categories: legal ability, judicial temperament and integrity, and administrative abilities. Allows only a judge who is the subject of an unfavorable retention recommendation to meet with the commission about its recommendation.

SB 274 Allows Justice Court Technology, Security, and Training Account to also cover expenditures for justice court audit expenditures. Adds information technology to the list of expenditures permitted by the Court Reporter Technology Account.

SB 318 Establishes that justice courts may not be created or certified by the Judicial Council unless the justice court operates a recording device in each court room.

State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: Kentucky

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Kentucky legislature in 2011 include the following:

HB 463 Provides Supreme Court of Kentucky shall administer the drug court programs in state and set guidelines for ordering pretrial release and monitored conditional release.

SB 108 Increases jurisdiction of District Court in civil cases from $4,000 to $5,000. Increases jurisdiction of small claims division of District Court from $1,500 to $2,500. Provides that cases in respective court(s) at time of adoption of law/increase to remain in same court.

SB 26 Provides for personal identification card for the homeless or those without a fixed permanent address. Provides $2 of the fee for the card is to go to the Administrative Office of the Courts for the hiring of additional deputy circuit court clerks.

State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: Wyoming

New laws affecting the courts, enacted by the Wyoming legislature in 2011, plus a constitutional amendment to appear on the 2012 ballot, include the following:

HJR 1 (Constitutional Amendment) Eliminates provision that district court commissioners may act only 1) in the absence of the district judge from the county or 2) where it is improper for the district judge to act. Placed on 2012 ballot.

HB 19 Permits retired circuit court judges not practicing law to serve temporarily on any circuit court with the consent of the chief justice.

HB 123 Repeals requirement that circuit court judges and magistrates provide surety bonds before taking office.

HB 190 Provides for the electronic submittal of fees, fines, bonds and penalties to circuit courts. Allowing for the creation of an internet based electronic transaction system for such fees, fines, etc. Provides that the supreme court may reduce fines, bonds and penalties if submitted electronically.

SB 15 Increases circuit court’s jurisdiction to $50,000. Increases small claims cases from $5,000 to $6,000.

State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: Virginia

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Virginia legislature in 2011 include the following:

HB 1534 Provides that claims, counter-claims, and cross-claims filed in actions for unlawful entry or detainer are not subject to the maximum jurisdictional limit of $15,000 applicable in general district court regardless of the purpose for which the occupant is using the premises

HB 1565 / SB 1274 Provides that restrictions on the secure remote access to court records do not apply to secure access by attorneys in good standing with the Virginia State Bar and their authorized agents and attorneys admitted to practice pro hac vice. Permits secure remote access by governmental agencies authorized by the clerk.

HB 1590 / SB 774 Increases from $15,000 to $25,000 the maximum civil jurisdictional limit of general district courts.

HB 1691 / SB 1063 ORIGINAL: Allows the establishment of servicemembers and veterans courts as specialized court dockets within the existing structure of Virginia’s court system. AS ENACTED: Provides for the program established by the Department of Veterans Services to monitor and coordinate mental health and rehabilitative services support for Virginia veterans to cooperate with localities that may establish special treatment procedures for veterans and active military servicemembers in the criminal justice system. Provides that to facilitate local involvement and flexibility in responding to the problem of crime in local communities and to effectively treat, counsel, rehabilitate, and supervise veterans and active military servicemembers who are offenders or defendants in the criminal justice system that any city, county, or combination thereof may develop, establish, and maintain policies, procedures, and treatment services for all such offenders who are convicted and sentenced for misdemeanors or felonies that are not felony acts of violence.

HB 1973 Provides that the person responsible for taking attendance when the potential jurors are assembled, and not the clerk, is responsible for verifying the identities of the jurors. Allows clerks to transmit or make available electronically to the Director of the Department of Corrections copies of the order of trial and final order for persons sentenced to the Department. Provides that if a power of attorney that has been recorded is revoked, a clerk may require that the revocation of a power of attorney be prepared as a separate instrument which shall be recorded and indexed by the clerk.

HB 2483 Provides that restrictions to secure remote access of court records do not apply to secure access by counsel or staff directly supervised by counsel.

SB 902 Permits retired justices or judges to appear as counsel in cases in courts of the Commonwealth if (i) the retired justice or judge has been retired for at least two years and is not authorized for temporary recall by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, (ii) the retired justice or judge is appearing as counsel, pro bono, for an indigent person in a civil matter, (iii) such civil matter is assigned or referred to the retired justice or judge by a nonprofit legal aid program organized under the auspices of the Virginia State Bar, and (iv) the retired justice or judge is not an employee, officer, or board member of such nonprofit legal aid program.

SB 1369 Clarifies that clerks may provide official certificates and certified records in digital form of any document maintained by the clerk. Confirms the clerks’ authority to perform notarial acts. Makes various changes to clerks’ duties regarding electronic filing.

State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review starts today

With most state legislatures now adjourned sine die, I am introducing a new feature: Legislative Year in Review. New laws affecting the courts in each state will be examined based on the order of adjournment. Thus today’s first installment will focus on Virginia, which was the first state to adjourn (February 27).

A list of approximate dates for each state’s review are below the fold.

Continue reading State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review starts today