Louisiana Legislature’s Judicial Compensation Commission meets October 25

The Louisiana Judicial Compensation Commission is set to meet October 25. Housed under the legislature, the commission’s recommendations are nonbinding. See RS 13:42, RS 13:46, and RS 13:47.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: list of all bills since 2010, new 2011 Michigan bill, first 2012 bill prefiled

This post has been updated. Click here.

Since the last update of this list in August, two pieces of legislation have been introduced. Michigan’s SB 701 appears to be the Senate version of HB 4769, which has gone nowhere since its June introduction.

The other bill is Alabama SB 33 of 2012, a prefiled bill for the next session. SB 33 of 2012 is a constitutional amendment that looks more like HB 607 / SB 61 than HB 597 / SB 62 in that it does not specifically mention “sharia”.

It should be noted that at least some 2011 bills will make a return in 2012; roughly half of states allow bills to be “carried over” from one session to the next. Definitive answers as to which bills will return will be available as the legislatures come back into session in January.

Full roster of bills going back to 2010 after the jump.
Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: list of all bills since 2010, new 2011 Michigan bill, first 2012 bill prefiled

2011 Southern indigent defense legislation


Alabama HB 601 / SB 440 Repeals all existing laws with respect to indigent defense. Redefines “indigent defendant.” Provides for the unified administration of indigent defense services by the state. Ends practice of providing for indigent defense through the local presiding circuit judge, commission, or governing body administering the system. Creates statewide Office of Indigent Defense Services within the Finance Department and indigent defense advisory boards in each judicial circuit.

Arkansas HB 1004 Prohibits payment of attorney’s fees of privately retained attorneys for indigent persons.

Arkansas HB 2207 Provides funding for public defenders may come from a county’s administration of justice, general, public defender, indigent defense, or public defender investigator fund(s), or any other fund authorized by law for that purpose. Requires expenditures comply with an itemized, line-item budget.

Louisiana HB 178 Authorizes Dept. of Children and Family Services to transfer funds appropriated pursuant to existing law to unspecified entities for representation of children and indigent parents in child protection proceedings. Removes require that funds go only to those entities specified in existing law.

Mississippi HB 1302 / SB 2563 Consolidates Office of Capital Defense Counsel, Office of Indigent Appeals and Division of Public Defender Training into Office of State Public Defender. Repeals provision that Circuit Court may appoint local counsel in capital cases at the expense of the Capital Defense Counsel Special Fund.

Mississippi HB 506 Permits all public defenders to carry firearms in courthouses. (See also HB 881)

Mississippi HB 332 / SB 2697 Extends Public Defender Task Force until 2014.

Texas HB 1754 / SB 170 Creates within judicial branch the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Transfers all powers and duties of Task Force on Indigent Defense  to Commission and abolishes Task Force. Designates Commission a permanent standing committee of the Texas Judicial Council and administratively attached to the Office of Court Administration, but provides commission is to prepare, approve, and submit a Legislative Appropriations Request and maintain a budget structure separate from that of OCA. Establishes membership of governing board of the Commission. Sets sunset date for commission as September 2023. Requires certain indigent defense information to be submitted by November 1st of each odd numbered year. Requires each law school receiving innocence project funding to submit annual reports regarding exonerations in criminal cases. Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure relating to the creation of public defender’s offices. Defines and authorizes local jurisdictions to establish managed assigned counsel programs as strictly a local option that would require both the judges and county commissioners court assent to implement. Repeals the “Indigent Representation Fund”, the court costs for which serve as a revenue stream to the Fair Defense Account, which serves the same purpose.

Texas HB 3323 / SB 1308 Allows for the review of attorneys who are no longer eligible to represent indigent defendants in capital cases due to a single finding of ineffective counsel. Provides determination will be made by the Regional Selection Committee, which includes an administrative law judge, a district judge, a representative from the local bar association, and a board-certified criminal attorney.

Adopted Resolution

Texas HCR 22 (Special Session) Commends the members of the Texas Supreme Court for their actions in support of legal aid services and honors them for their work in promoting access to justice for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Active/Carried over into 2012

Oklahoma SB 868 Specifies Indigent Defense System is only for indigents who are in custody. Provides a court may appoint legal representation for an indigent who is not in custody, in which case costs for such representation shall be paid from the local court fund.

Oklahoma HB 2175 Restricts use of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System to defendants who are in custody. Provides a definition for “unable to employ counsel”.

Tennessee HB 1225 / SB 1279 Provides that if an attorney, post-conviction defender or district public defender in a criminal case is found to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel, that attorney cannot receive any further state funds for legal services until the attorney obtains continuing education, counseling or training that addresses the reason for the attorney being ineffective.

Tennessee HB 1623 / SB 1574 Removes the requirement that the Executive Director of the District Public Defenders Conference (DPDC) administer the accounts of the judicial branch of government relating to the DPDC; prepare, approve, and submit budget estimates and appropriations necessary for the maintenance and operation of the offices of district public defenders; approve all requisitions for the payment of public moneys appropriated for the maintenance and operation of the judicial branch of government; audit claims, and prepare vouchers for payment; and provide the district public defenders with minimum law libraries.

Approved by one chamber

Louisiana SB 270 Provides 10% of revenue generated from abandoned cars sold by court as result of littering conviction go toward indigent defender board. Approved by full Senate and House Natural Resources and Environment committee. Indefinitely postponed on House floor.

Mississippi SB 2945 Specifies public defender is authorized to assign the duties of all employees of the office without regard to the source of funding for those employees. Approved by full Senate, died in House Judiciary B committee.

Texas SB 1682 Authorizes the creation of a managed assigned counsel program by a locality with written approval of a judge of the juvenile court of a county or county court, statutory county court, or district court trying criminal cases. Approved by full Senate and House Criminal Jurisprudence committee. Died on House floor.

Died in committee

Arkansas HB 2146 Defines crime of “illegal disbursement of funds by a judge”. Makes illegal instances where judge makes payments for services rendered to a public defender, assistant public defender, prosecuting attorney, or deputy prosecuting attorney resulting from the exercise of that person’s official duties.

Arkansas SB 941 Provides public defenders must provide itemized bill with a detailed explanation of services rendered, time spent, and expenses incurred. Renames converts certificates of indigency into affidavits to be created by public defender commission. Increases from $100 to $250 maximum user fee payable to commission.

Arkansas SB 974 Designates public defender commission a criminal justice agency for purposes of access to the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

Mississippi HB 181 Sets hourly payment for indigent defense counsel as 80% of the hourly rate allowed in the Mississippi’s federal courts. Provides judge presiding in case may adjust the total requested payment to counsel in a case if the court finds that the number of hours claimed by counsel in that case is not reasonable.

Mississippi HB 153 Creates District Public Defender Pilot project.

Mississippi HB 978 Provides public defender salaries are to be same as county prosecutors.

Mississippi SB 2971 Authorizes loan forgiveness programs for education loans to encourage law students and other attorneys to choose careers in the area of public interest, including specifically public defenders and civil legal aid attorneys.

Texas HB 1475 Provides for longevity pay for assistant public defenders.

Texas HB 1392 Creates special $95 fee for sale of property at a foreclosure sale to pay for civil legal services to the indigent.

Texas HB 2174 / SB 726 Establishes judicial access and improvement account to provide funding for basic civil legal services, indigent defense, and judicial technical support through certain county service fees and court costs imposed to fund the account. (See also Special Session HB 34 / SB 23)

Texas HB 1918 / SB 1028 Requires a district court judge to appoint one attorney, rather than two, when a capital felony case is filed. Provides in cases where prosecutors do not seek the death penalty a second attorney will not be required to be appointed.

2011 Southern bail/pretrial release legislation


Alabama HB 56 Requires determination if defendant is unlawfully present in U.S. prior to bail determination and, if determined not lawfully present, denial of bail. (see also SB 256).

Kentucky HB 463 / SB 161 Establishes pretrial release and considerations for persons based on risk of flight and danger before trial and require credit toward bail based on time spent in jail before trial. Requires the Supreme Court to create guidelines for judges to use when considering pretrial release and monitored conditional release. Directs the courts to develop guidelines for pretrial release decision making, and directs judges to use these guidelines in making those decisions. Requires those on pretrial release to use GPS monitoring. Provides a maximum bail is not to exceed the amount of fine and court costs for specified crimes. Requires Department of Corrections to provide training on evidence-based practices to employees of pretrial services.

Louisiana HB 216 Provides failure to to make probable cause determination within 48 hours of arrest, resulting in release, does not preclude the defendant’s rearrest and resetting of bond for the same offense or offenses upon the issuance of an arrest warrant based upon a finding of probable cause by a magistrate.

Mississippi SB 2239 Clarifies that domestic violence bail bond fee is to be refunded to defendant who is not finally convicted.

Oklahoma HB 1347 Creates Wildlife Bail Procedure Act, setting procedures for persons arrested for violation of any section of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Code.

Tennessee HB 703 / SB 861 Directs that a defendant released on a pre-trial bond continue on release pending the trial under the same terms and conditions unless the court determines other terms and conditions or termination of the bond is necessary. Authorizes a court to revoke a defendant’s bond and order defendant held without bail pending trial if the defendant violates a release condition; is charged with an offense committed during release; or engages in conduct that obstructs the orderly and expeditious progress of the trial or other proceedings.

Tennessee HB 718 / SB 1269 Provides, in certain DUI-related cases,defendant may not be released with another bail “until the judge or judicial commissioner sets conditions on the bond to attempt to eliminate the danger posed by the defendant” instead of “unless the court first determines the defendant is no longer a danger to the community.”

Tennessee HB 962 / SB 802 Directs issuance of a capias warrant for a criminal defendant who forfeits bond. If circumstances require, authorizes use of a duplicate copy of the capias until a certified copy of the capias can be obtained from the clerk’s office.

Texas HB 1070 / SB 972 Allows a county jailer to take a defendant’s bail bond.

Texas HB 1658 Specifies that a defendant may be refunded a bail bond on order of the court and only after the defendant complies with the conditions of the bond.

Texas HB 1822 Specifically authorizes a partial release of security when the amount of security remaining would meet certain requirements.

Texas HB 1823 Harmonizes provisions related to bail bond business in Code of Criminal Procedure with related provisions under the Occupations Code.

Texas HB 3077 / SB 877 Requires a sheriff, prosecuting attorney, or clerk of the court to verify an affidavit from a surety stating the accused is in custody of another governmental entity before discharging the surety’s liability on a bail bond. Requires a sheriff to place a detainer on the accused and notify both appropriate officials in the jurisdiction in which the accused is incarcerated and the court or magistrate for which prosecution is pending. Requires magistrate then direct the court to issue a capias for the arrest of the accused if deemed necessary.

Introduced with committee and/or floor approval

Tennessee HB 1312 / SB 1862 Removes the requirement that a court determine whether a defendant is a danger to the community prior to releasing the defendant on bail for being charged with vehicular assault, vehicular homicide or driving under the influence.

Tennessee HB 1380 / SB 780 Specifies that when determining the amount of bail, if it is determined that the defendant is unlawfully present in the United States, then there would be a presumption that the defendant is a flight risk.

Texas HB 770 Enhances the penalty for bail jumping and failure to appear as a condition of being released from custody from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree if the offense for which the actor’s appearance was required is an offense of murder or capital murder.

Texas HB 875 Requires the sheriff or other officer to notify the judge or magistrate authorized to grant or deny the defendant’s release on bail if the sheriff or officer determines that the defendant was not lawfully admitted to the United States or, although lawfully admitted, the defendant’s lawful status has expired. Requires the Commission on Jail Standards to prepare and issue guidelines and procedures to ensure compliance with these provisions. Establishes a rebuttable presumption at any proceeding before the judge or magistrate concerning the defendant’s release on bail that the defendant presents a risk of flight from prosecution if a sheriff or other officer notifies a judge or magistrate that a defendant was not lawfully admitted to the United States or that, although lawfully admitted, the defendant’s lawful status has expired.

Texas HB 1784 Allows a court to refund any cash funds to a defendant after the defendant complies with the bond conditions. Allows a defendant, as part of a plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement, to request funds to be withheld for outstanding fines, court costs, or amounts of restitution, but not to repay attorney’s fees.

Texas HJR 86 (Constitutional Amendment) Denies bail to certain persons who are unlawfully present in the United States and are taken into custody for committing a felony.

Texas HJR 98 (Constitutional Amendment) Denies bail to certain persons charged with a violent or sexual offense after having been previously convicted of a violent or sexual offense.

Texas SB 878 Prohibits a court or a magistrate from authorizing a defendant to deposit cash less than the full amount of bail set by the court or magistrate, nor require money or other security as a condition of bond for release.

Introduced with committee rejection

Alabama HB 481 / SB 276 Requires as condition for bail after an arrest for a second or subsequent DUI violation that a defendant have an ignition interlock device installed.

Alabama SB 291 Requires as condition for bail after an arrest for DUI violation that a defendant have an ignition interlock device installed.

Tennessee HB 1501 / SB 1987 Makes a person who is charged with sexual exploitation of a minor ineligible for suspension of prosecution and pretrial diversion.

Texas HB 1686 Require a judge or magistrate in whose court a criminal action is pending to discharge a surety’s liability on a bail bond under the following conditions: the surety files with the judge or magistrate an affidavit stating that more than five years have elapsed since the date on which the surety posted the bond, that the surety no longer wishes to be a surety on the bond, and that the surety will give the prosecuting attorney notice of the affidavit; and the surety gives such notice of the affidavit to the prosecuting attorney. Requires a judge or magistrate who discharges a surety’s liability in that manner, if an indictment or information remains pending against the defendant, to issue a capias for the defendant.

Introduced with other or no activity

Alabama HB 481 Requires as condition for bail after an arrest for a second or subsequent DUI violation that a defendant have an ignition interlock device installed.

Arkansas HB 1245 Modifies existing law regarding issuance of warrants for failure to appear for those held on bond. Provides a judgment entered when the defendant has been surrendered, apprehended, or arrested within one hundred twenty (120) days of receipt of written notification to the surety of the defendant’s failure to appear is void.

Arkansas HB 1246 Permits financing of bail bonds.

Arkansas HB 2169 “Affirmatively clarifies” financing of bail bonds is prohibited.

Mississippi HB 54 Establishes rebuttable presumption defendant presents a risk of flight if not lawfully admitted to the United States.

Mississippi HB 1266 Imposes a 1% increase on fee charged for bail bonds to be deposited in the State Treasury for Department of Mental Health.

Mississippi HCR 14 Prohibits issuance of bail for sex offenses.

Mississippi SB 2474 Clarifies procedures by which ail is set by municipal court. Provides bail set is payable to municipality.

Mississippi SB 2505 In cases of domestic violence, requires Protective Order Registry be checked before granting bail on another charge.

Oklahoma SB 705 Changes numerous laws with respect to personal recognizance, forfeiture of bail, release on personal recognizance, posting bail, and suspension of driving privilege. Modifies certain arraignment requirements. Removes requirement for release on personal recognizance under specified circumstances.

Tennessee HB 1578 / SB 770 Specifies that when determining the amount of bail, if it is determined that the defendant is unlawfully present in the United States, then there would be a presumption that the defendant is a flight risk.

Texas HB 168 Requires that a bail bond state an expiration date of not later than the third anniversary of the date the principal signed the bond.

Texas HB 532 Establishes a rebuttable presumption at any proceeding before the judge or magistrate concerning the defendant’s release on bail that the defendant presents a risk of flight from prosecution if a sheriff or other officer notifies a judge or magistrate that a defendant was not lawfully admitted to the United States or that, although lawfully admitted, the defendant’s lawful status has expired.

Texas HB 2467 Authorizes a surety to relieve the surety of the surety’s undertaking by delivering an affidavit to the prosecuting attorney and the county court clerk stating that the accused is incarcerated, unless the accused is not a United States citizen and is unlawfully present in the United States.

Texas SB 881 Allows a defendant and a defendant’s sureties to be exonerated from liability upon forfeiture if before the final judgment, there was a death of the principal or the principal was deported from the United States.

Texas SB 909 Relating to the discharge of a surety’s liability on a bail bond in a criminal case.

Louisiana State of the Judiciary: good stewards of the taxpayer monies allocated; improvements to juvenile justice system

The National Center for State Courts has an archive of 2011, 2010, and previous years State of the Judiciary addresses located here.

The last 2011 State of the Judiciary delivered to a legislature was the speech delivered May 3 by Chief Justice Catherine D.Kimball. The day before (May 2), the House and Senate adopted SCR 13, inviting the Chief Justice to give the address.

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

It has been two years since my last visit to this chamber. Over these last years, there have been many challenges, both professional and personal. For a short time there, I wasn’t so sure I’d make it back to talk to you again. [a reference to her January January 2010 stroke -BR] However, I am happy to report that I have been back at the helm of the state judiciary for over a year now. I was touched by the outpouring of support that I received from across the state during my recovery from the stroke. Thank you all for your support, words of encouragement, and prayers.

I believe that the respect you show us is indicative of the mutual understanding and recognition that our two branches – the Legislature and the Judiciary – are separate, co-equal, and independent branches of our government, as designed by our founding fathers. Independence of the judiciary is essential in a democracy. Even though the state judiciary’s budget is only ½ of 1 percent of the total state budget, adequate funding of our branch of government guarantees an independent judiciary by enabling us to discharge our constitutionally mandated duties and responsibilities of resolving disputes and adjudicating cases

I believe we have been good stewards of the taxpayer monies allocated to the state judiciary. Regarding our adjudicative responsibilities, in 2010, a total of approximately 844,460 cases were filed at all levels of court combined – district, appellate and Supreme…At the suggestion of the National Center for State Courts that performed a review of our case management operations, we have begun to utilize video conferencing to reduce the travel expenses of some of our Justices, and to enable Justices to participate in conferences when they are unable to travel to New Orleans for some reason.

We implemented a hiring freeze last year, filling only the most crucial positions. We estimate that the freezing of these positions, while inconvenient and not popular, may result in significant savings over time…We have also spent many hours and resources designing, developing and implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning system which will result in an integrated computer-based system to manage financial resources, materials, payroll, and human resources. This ERP will revolutionize the way we conduct our internal business at the court, and will result in substantial savings and increased efficiencies for years to come. After months of hard work, we are halfway through our ERP rollout, and we expect to be completely online in just a few months.

In January, we created the Louisiana Judicial Leadership Institute, designed to serve as an organizational enrichment tool to assist in developing a judge’s leadership skills, to increase awareness of leadership and management issues and challenges, and to provide a network of court leaders across the state who are actively involved in improving leadership skills and court operations. The Institute will consist of five sessions over an eight month period in various cities across the state. The inaugural class, composed of judges from across the state and from all levels of the state judiciary, participated in the first session in March, and I was pleased that we received rave reviews.

Both Louisiana and nationally, we have seen an increase in the number of pro-se or self-represented litigants using the court system, as a result of a weakening economy and rising litigation costs. We joined with the Louisiana State Bar Association to form a committee to explore methods of assisting those self-represented litigants in navigating the legal system….Justice Jeannette Knoll chaired the Supreme Court Committee to Study Post-Conviction Procedures, whose purpose was to conduct a comprehensive review and study of the laws, processes and procedures relevant to Louisiana post-conviction proceedings, in a collaborative method to determine the cause, if any, of delays or practices unfair to the either party…A specially appointed Task Force looked at how to improve courthouse security in Louisiana, and yet another committee was appointed to study standard jury instructions with the goal of translating them into plain and understandable language.

Over the last few years, you, the Legislature, has asked the Supreme Court to take on several programs. We did so enthusiastically, and we believe, effectively. We also did so economically. For example, in 2001, you asked us to oversee the establishment of a Drug Court program in Louisiana….Since the first drug court opened in Louisiana, over 8,300 arrestees have graduated from the program. A total of 438 drug-free babies were born, for an estimated total cost saving of $109-1/2 million dollars ($109,500,000), based on a total of estimated costs of medical and related expenses for a drug-addicted baby in the first year of life.

Another example of where funds allocated to the Supreme Court for use in programs result in savings is CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates….. Each year, over 1,000 Louisiana children with CASAs are permanently placed out of the foster care system, saving the State approximately $10,000 per year for each child.

Let me turn for a minute to this current legislative session…We have come a long way in our juvenile justice system – from 2001’s ranking by the New York Times as one of the worst systems in the country, to today’s reality of international foundations such as MacArthur, Casey and others investing millions of dollars in our state because they see the potential and willingness for reform…We in the judiciary have embraced our role in the system and have engaged actively with the Department of Children and Family Services and other partners to try to improve outcomes for these vulnerable children.We recently participated actively in the Child and Family Services Review, which is a federal review of all aspects of the state’s child welfare system, including the legal system…This last year, under the chairmanship of your colleague, Rep. John Schroder, we also successfully implemented a new statewide system of representation for children and indigent parents in child protection cases, working with all three branches of government and the Louisiana Bar Foundation.

Thank you again for the invitation to be with you today. Thank you for your attention to my remarks, and on behalf of the state judiciary, thank you for your respect and your courtesies. And most importantly, thank you for your undying efforts to improve the lives of the citizens of our state.

Louisiana House urges and requests the Louisiana Supreme Court implement mandatory continuing education for judges on family law

Many, if not most, states already require judges take continuing education (not to be confused with any of their continuing education related to maintenance of their license to practice law). Most of the states allow for discretion; a judge is required to meet X number of hours of continuing ed but can choose the topics.

Louisiana’s HCR 79 of 2011, however, would ask the state’s Supreme Court to require at least some of those hours be dedicated to matters related to family law:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Legislature of Louisiana that the Louisiana Supreme Court is urged and requested to fully develop a mandatory continuing legal education curriculum to ensure that the entire judiciary of this state is apprised of the current status of Louisiana law regarding family law subjects, including child custody and the child support guidelines, as well as the body of social science research that exists regarding these matters.

The concurrent resolution was introduced directly onto the House floor and adopted on May 10. The Senate’s Judiciary A Committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill sometime today.

Louisiana’s legislature scrambling to rewrite laws related to courts due to population shifts and declines in state

A variety of states grant certain areas or the judges/clerks/employees of certain courts options or authorities based on the population they serve. For example, in South Carolina, each county with a population over 130,000 in the latest census is required to have a master-in-equity court. (Sec. 14-11-10)

Several states have, however, started to move away from specifications based on population and identification of counties, localities, or municipalities by name. Louisiana’s legislature, as part of its special redistricting session, is doing so with respect to numerous courts in the state, in particular focusing on the changing population in the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish post-Hurricane Katrina. In the past, references to the power of traffic courts in “parishes with a population in excess of four hundred seventy-five thousand” could only mean Orleans Parish with a population of 484,674 in the 2000 Census. As of 2010, however, no parishes in the state have a population over 441,000. Similar references to courts in areas having a population between X and Y became confused, no longer applicable, or possibly applicable to courts not originally intended.

As a result, the following pieces of legislation have been introduced to address just some of the changes to the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, or other codified law collections separate from the R.S. (such as the Code of Criminal Procedure).

HB 13A Title 49 (State Administration)

HB 15A Title 32 (Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation)

HB 21A Title 11 (Consolidated Public Retirement Systems)

HB 22A Code of Criminal Procedure

HB 24A Title 15 (Criminal Procedure)

HB 26A Title 33 (Municipalities and Parishes)

HB 28A Titles 11 (Consolidated Public Retirement Systems), 18 (Election Code), 25 (Libraries, Museums, & Cultural Affairs), 33 (Municipalities and Parishes), and 42 (Public Officers and Employees)

SB 7A Children’s Code

SB 8A Code of Civil Procedure

SB 9A Title 9 (Civil Code – Ancillaries)

SB 15A Title 43 (Public Printing and Advertisements)

SB 17A Title 13 (Courts and Judicial Procedure)

Special Edition on Court Funding

The American Bar Association Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System will be holding its inaugural meeting in Atlanta today. The task force is set to address “the severe underfunding of our justice system, depletion of resources, and the courts’ struggle to render their constitutional function and provide access to justice for countless Americans.

This special edition of Gavel to Gavel looks at just some of the ways state legislatures have proposed funding courts in the last several years.

The regular, weekly edition of Gavel to Gavel will appear Thursday.