Iowa: Ban same sex marriages and strip state supreme court of jurisdiction to hear appeals

In a repeat of an effort first launched in 2013 and discussed here, members of the Iowa House introduced legislation last week to strip the state supreme court of power to hear any challenges to a ban on same sex marriage.

The efforts are an ongoing reaction to a 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision that unanimously struck down a state statute that banned same sex marriage. As a result of what became known as the Varnum decision, 3 justices of that court lost retention elections in 2010 and an effort was made to impeach the other justices.

HB 101 contains 2 provisions.

The first prohibits court registrars from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples until a constitutional amendment is submitted to Iowa voters on the subject (such as HJR 4, introduced by many of the same co-sponsors of HB 444)

The second prohibits any appellate review of the marriage license ban by the state’s top court: “The supreme court shall not have appellate jurisdiction over any prohibitions or restrictions established by this Act relating to the granting of a marriage license in this state.”

The language mirrors similar bills introduced in the U.S. Congress to prohibit federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing same-sex marriage bans (HR 724 of 2007, HR 1269 of 2009 & HR 875 of 2011) however the federal version prohibited any federal court from hearing such a challenge; the Iowa bill merely limits the appellate jurisdiction of the state’s supreme court.

HB 101 is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.

 

Iowa State of the Judiciary: Court technology, courthouse security

Chief Justice Mark Cady presented the State of the Judiciary on January 14 to a joint convention of the legislature pursuant to a resolution (HCR 3) passed by both chambers. HCR 3 noted that the Chief Justice’s report is statutorily based. Iowa Code 602.1207 provides:

The chief justice shall communicate the condition of the judicial branch by message to each general assembly, and may recommend matters the chief justice deems appropriate.

Highlights of the Chief Justice’s speech (full text here) included

Continue reading Iowa State of the Judiciary: Court technology, courthouse security

Changing civil jurisdiction thresholds – Part 2

This second in a series of posts looks at legislative efforts to change the civil jurisdiction thresholds in state limited and general jurisdiction courts in the last decade. For a listing of all current civil jurisdiction thresholds, click here.

Hawaii to Maryland below the fold.

Continue reading Changing civil jurisdiction thresholds – Part 2

Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 2

This second installment looks at efforts to change state constitutional grants of rulemaking authority to courts of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or judicial councils.

My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here.

Hawaii to Maryland below the fold.
Continue reading Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 2

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: are there the votes in the FL Senate this year? And what about a MO veto?

The 2014 efforts to ban state court use of international or foreign laws in general, and sharia law in particular, are effectively over save for two states. Since I last updated this in early March the only movement has been in Florida and Missouri, setting the stage for a possible repeat of 2013.

Florida: The Florida House and Senate bills are presently on the floors of their respective chambers and could be voted on any day. However, when this occurred last year the House was able to pass its version on April 18, 2013. The Senate on the other hand did not have the votes to pass either its version or the House bill and wound up tabling (i.e. killing) a combined House/Senate bill in May 2013.

Missouri: Just like in 2013, the 2014 effort came out of the Senate General Laws committee. However, last year’s version was vetoed by the state’s governor citing among other things the possibility that the language was so broad it would void or at least jeopardize foreign adoptions. The 2013 veto was overridden by the Senate but failed to be overridden by the House by a single vote (108 out of 109 needed).

List of bills below the fold
Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: are there the votes in the FL Senate this year? And what about a MO veto?

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: active in GA, FL, MO only; dead in MS

The latest efforts to ban state court use of international or foreign law, often cited in the context of banning the use of sharia law by state courts, appear to be failing. The vast majority of such bills are not even getting committee hearings. A case in point is Mississippi’s HB 44: the bill had been approved by the full House 116-2 in February, but failed to get out of the Senate Judiciary A committee before the March 4 legislative deadline for committee passage.

Effectively only 3 states have active efforts to enact such bans

List of bills below the fold

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: active in GA, FL, MO only; dead in MS

Iowa Senate passes bill removing fees for court interpreters and translators

Many cases in state courts today involve those with limited English proficiency (LEP). The Iowa Senate last week approve a bill to provide translators to those in need in such cases access t0 interpreters and translators.

SF 2199 requires the judiciary pay for the interpreters and translators for all types of court proceedings (civil, criminal, and juvenile) and predisposition court-ordered programs such as mediation. The case type or economic status of the LEP participant are not to be considered in whether or not the translator or interpreter is provided and interpreter/translator services cannot be charged to the party.

SF 2199 is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

Iowa bill, echoing Wisconsin proposal, would require case information be removed from online court record system if charges dismissed or person found not guilty

I mentioned a few weeks ago the ongoing attempts to have criminal case information pulled from the public-facing version of the Wisconsin courts database when the charges are dismissed or the person is found not guilty. Now Iowa’s legislature is considering a similar measure. Such databases have been used, or misused, as criminal background checks (see here for why that’s not such a good idea; full disclosure: I and other National Center for State Court folks wrote and drafted the info sheet).

HB 2206 provides in operative part.

When a person is found not guilty of a charge or when a charge is dismissed against a person, except as provided in section 907.4, the state court administrator shall cause the records of the charge to be removed from the Iowa court information system so that the charge records are not available to the general public.

The exception under 907.4 is in deferred judgement cases.

HB 2206 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: introduced in Georgia UPDATED

2014 appears to be the year when bills to ban court use of international/foreign law, or specifically sharia law, start to wane. I mentioned two weeks ago that at least three states that saw such bills introduced in the past did not see them reintroduced in 2014. Moreover, Mississippi failed to take up any of their bills before the legislative deadline for committee action. Of all the bills introduced in that state since 2011, not a single one has advanced out of committee (HB 301 of 2011, HB 525 of 2011, HB 2 of 2012, HB 698 of 2012, HB 711 of 2013, HB 1127 of 2013, HB 1333 of 2013, SB 2729 of 2013, HB 44 of 2014, HB 557 of 2014, HB 622 of 2014, and SB 2660 of 2014.)

Update 2/6/14: The Mississippi legislature’s bill tracking system now indicates that HB 44 of 2014 has in fact  made it out of committee.

Meanwhile Georgia has seen one bill and one constitutional amendment introduced in their legislature to ban courts from using international/foreign law.

List of bills below the fold

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: introduced in Georgia UPDATED