Bans on court use of sharia/international law: South Carolina bill bans sharia law by name; bills not reintroduced in at least three states

I mentioned that in recent years efforts to prohibit state courts from using or referencing sharia law had gone out of their way not to specifically use the word. This was done primarily in light of a federal court decision striking down a 2010 Oklahoma constitutional amendment that had used the word as being discriminatory for picking on sharia, and by extension Islam, in particular a decision upheld by the Tenth Circuit in 2012 and subsequent permanent injunction issued in August 2013.

Those court rulings did not however stop the recent introduction of South Carolina HB 4494 which reads very similar to the 2010 Oklahoma amendment and mentions sharia law in particular.

A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority may not enforce a foreign law including, but not limited to, Sharia law if it would violate a constitutionally guaranteed right of this State or of the United States.

2014 also marks the first year in several years that some states have simply stopped seeing such bills introduced. Three states that had such bills introduced (Indiana, New Hampshire, and Virginia) did not see them reintroduced prior to the filing deadlines for their respective chambers.

List of bills below the fold

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: South Carolina bill bans sharia law by name; bills not reintroduced in at least three states

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: a look at the 2014 bills; Missouri attempts repassage after veto & Vermont has its first such bill

We aren’t a full week into the legislative cycle and already have a few bills that purport to ban state court use of sharia/international law. As was the case in 2013, these are heavily modified bills from the originals introduced in 2010 and, in the case of Oklahoma, struck down by a federal court.

Specifically, most now limit the prohibition on the use of sharia/international law

  • does not use the word “sharia” specifically
  • applies only to a particular case type (such as family law or domestic relations)
  • does not infringe on the right to contract
  • does not apply to not apply to a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, etc.
  • does not apply to recognition or use of tribal court decisions in state courts
  • does not apply to ecclesiastical matters within a denomination

Missouri’s bill in particular is worth noting. SB 267 of 2013 was vetoed by that state’s governor who noted that among other things the bill might void foreign adoptions. There was a successful veto override in the Senate, but the House override failed by a single vote. SB 619 of 2014 in effect, puts the language of the governor’s veto message into the older bill.

In addition this it the first year Vermont has seen such a bill introduced (SB 265).

List of bills below the fold Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: a look at the 2014 bills; Missouri attempts repassage after veto & Vermont has its first such bill

Vermont bill modifies state’s merit selection system: adds names given to governor, specifies criteria for use in nomination of candidates

Judges and magistrates in Vermont’s Supreme and Superior Courts are all appointed initially via merit selection with senate confirmation. SB 305 of 2014 as pre-filed would change both the qualifications for those offices as well as how the merit selection commission (Judicial Nominating Board) functions.

Residency: New provisions would require that a Justice, Judge, or Magistrate of the Supreme and Superior Courts “be a resident of Vermont during his or her term.”

More names for the governor: Under current law the Judicial Nominating Board can submit as few or as many names as it likes to the governor, but the governor must submit from that list alone. SB 305 would effectively allow the governor to force the Board to produce more names. If the Governor opted not to select a name from the first list created by the Board, a second list would be created from a list of people “who did not previously apply for that particular vacancy.” The names from the second list plus the names from the first list would then be resubmitted to the governor.

Criteria for appointment: Current law requires the Board’s criteria and standards for nominating people for judicial office “include such factors as integrity, legal knowledge and ability, judicial temperament, impartiality, health, experience, diligence, administrative and communicative skills, social consciousness, and public service.” The Board currently is allowed to create such rules at it requires in defining and using these terms. SB 305 however, defines them for the Board

(1) Integrity. A candidate shall possess demonstrated integrity.
(2) Legal knowledge and ability. A candidate shall possess a high degree of knowledge of established legal principles and procedures, and have demonstrated a high degree of ability to interpret and apply the law to specific factual situations.
(3) Judicial temperament. A candidate shall possess a judicial temperament, which includes common sense, compassion, decisiveness, firmness, humility, open-mindedness, tact, and patience.
(4) Impartiality. A candidate shall exhibit an ability to make judicial determinations in a manner free of bias.
(5) Professional experience. Except as otherwise provided by this subdivision, a candidate shall be an experienced lawyer who has practiced law for at least ten years, and shall have practiced law in Vermont for at least five out of the ten years preceding his or her application to the Board. (An exception is made for Magistrates who need only have practiced for 5 of the last 10 years, up from the current 4).
(6) Stamina. A candidate shall possess the physical and mental capacity required by the position.
(7) Communication capability. A candidate shall possess demonstrated oral and written capacities, with reasonable accommodations, required by the position.
(8) Financial integrity. A candidate shall possess demonstrated financial probity.
(9) Work ethic. A candidate shall demonstrate diligence.
(10) Vermont residency. A candidate for Supreme Court Justice, a judge of the Superior Court, or magistrate shall be a Vermont resident for a least one year prior to application to the Board.
(11) Administrative capabilities. A candidate shall demonstrate management and organizational skills or experience required by the position.

Additionally the Board may consider other requirements at their discretion the individual’s

(1) public, community, or military service;
(2) judicial experience in Vermont;
(3) for Superior Court, the nature and extent of the candidate’s trial practice;
(4) for judge of the Environmental Division of the Superior Court, experience and expertise in environmental and zoning law

SB 305 has been pre-filed for the 2014 session.

Merit selection: comprehensive state-by-state review of efforts to modify or end existing systems

The debate over merit selection systems has reached a head in the last several years, with strenuous efforts at play to create merit selection systems in states which lack them coupled with vigorous efforts in other states that have merit selection to heavily modify or end their systems.

Over the next two days I’m going to look at both aspects of merit selection. Today I’ll be examining 2012 efforts to modify or end existing merit selection systems as created by constitutional provision or statute. Several states use “merit selection” entirely as the result of governors’ creating nomination panels; because these don’t involve the legislature I will not focus on them. All information as to which states have what is from the American Judicature Society’s 2011 report “Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status” located here.

Tomorrow (April 11) I will examine efforts to implement statutory and/or constitutional merit selection systems in states that do not currently have them.

Alabama – Circuit Court in select counties [interim only]: No activity

Alaska – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Superior Court: No activity

Arizona – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Superior Court in larger counties: A 2011 bill (SCR 1001) revising numerous provisions of the merit selection system (commission composition, number of names submitted, etc.) plus increasing judicial terms will be on the 2012 ballot. A 2012 effort to simply end the merit selection system and replace with partisan elections (SCR 1034 / SB 1371) was rejected in committee.

Colorado – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court: No activity

Connecticut – Supreme Court, Appellate Court, Superior Court: No activity

Florida – Supreme Court, District Court of Appeal; Circuit [interim only]: A 2011 bill (HJR 7111) requiring Supreme Court nominees chosen by the governor be subject to Senate confirmation will be on the 2012 ballot. Several attempts to change the composition of the nominating commissions and allowing a governor to fire a majority of the commissioners at will (vs. staggered terms) failed at the last minute (HB 971 / SB 1570).

Hawaii – Supreme Court, Intermediate Appellate Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, District Court: Constitutional amendments HB 2343 and SB 2209 would require judicial selection commissions to provide more public disclosure of their proceedings, specifically information about those whose names are considered to fill vacancies. The Senate version appears now to be the primary bill, having been approved by the full Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. Another constitutional amendment, SB 2205, would lower the number of names submitted to fill vacancies: for Supreme, Intermediate Appellate & Circuit: from 4-6 to specifically 3. For District: from not less than 6 to specifically 3.

Idaho – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court [interim only]: No activity

Indiana – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Tax Court, Superior and other trial courts in select counties: Proposals to substantially revised (SJR 13) or simply end (SJR 14) merit selection failed to advance.

Iowa – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court: Several bills introduced in 2011 to either alter or end merit selection were carried over into the 2012 session (see database for full list). None advanced.

Kansas – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court at district’s discretion : The prime focus was in ending merit selection for the Court of Appeals; because it is a statutorily created court the change would only require a change in statute rather than a constitutional amendment. While meeting with House approval in 2011 (HB 2101) the Senate failed to take up the bill. Undaunted, the House began attaching it to unrelated pieces of legislation (SB 83) and seeking to end the commission on judicial performance which makes recommendations for or against retention of judges (HB 2396).

Kentucky – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Court; District Court [interim only]: No activity

Maine – Supreme Judicial Court and Superior Court: No activity

Minnesota – District Court [interim only]: No activity

Missouri – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts in select counties: The state synonymous with merit selection saw efforts to outright end merit selection fail to advance (HJR 77, SJR 41, SJR 42). Efforts to modify the system were and are active. SJR 51 would allow the governor to appoint all nominating commission members subject to senate confirmation and a prohibition of members of the bar, judiciary, or their spouses from serving. HJR 44 increases the names given to the governor to chose from 3 to 5 and allows the governor to reject the first 5 person panel, ask for a second, and then select from the 10. It also alters the composition of the nominating commissions and, like the Florida provisions attempted to do, allows the governor to fire commissioners appointed by prior governors. HJR 44 was approved by the House Special Standing Committee on Judicial Reform 3/21/12 and is currently in the House Rules Committee.

Montana – Supreme Court and District Court [interim only]-: Legislature not in session.

Nebraska – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court, County Court: No activity

Nevada – Supreme Court and District Court [interim only]: Legislature not in session.

New Mexico – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court, Metropolitan Court: SB 24, which was approved by the Senate but not the House, would have created a special fund to help pay for the judicial nominating commissions associated with the state’s merit selection system. Funds were to have come from gifts, donations, etc. plus $50,000 a year from the legislature itself as an automatic, recurring appropriation.

New York – Court of Appeals (court of last resort in state): A single bill introduced in 2011 (AB 309) would have required the nominating commission submit all qualified names to governor. It has failed to advance.

North Dakota – Supreme Court and District Court: Legislature out of session

Oklahoma – Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, District Court [interim only]: 2011 carry over bills SJR 36 would have ended merit selection for the appellate courts, allowing the governor to appoint anyone qualified subject to senate confirmation while SB 621 would have required nominees chosen via the state’s merit selection system be subject to senate confirmation. Neither have advanced in 2012. Other carry over bills from 2011 to end merit (HJR 1008 & HJR 1009 for appellate courts; SB 543 to fill interim vacancies in District Courts) went nowhere.

Rhode Island – Supreme Court, Superior Court, Family Court, District Court : No activity Update 4/11/12: HB 8043 filed just days ago extends until 2013 an existing law allowing any individual whose name was publicly submitted to the governor by the judicial nominating commission to be eligible for subsequent nomination by the governor.

South Dakota – Supreme Court, Circuit Court [Interim only]: No activity

Tennessee – Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Appeals, Trial Courts [interim only]: Tennessee has seen literally dozens of bills introduced in 2011 and carried over, plus new bills in 2012, dealing with the state’s merit selection system which is due to “sunset” and expire soon.

Put merit selection explicitly in constitution:

HJR 753 Adds legislative confirmation of nominees

HJR 830

SJR 183

SJR 710 Adds legislative confirmation of nominees

Extend merit to June 30, 2013:

HB 3575 / SB 3321

HB 2356 / SB 2346

HB 2537 / SB 2345

Extend merit to June 30, 2014:

HB 3451 (nominating commission only)

End merit:

HB 173 / SB 127

HB 231 / SB 281

HB 958 / SB 699

HB 3615 / SB 3714

SJR 475

SJR 635

Modify:

HB 1017 / SB 82 Retains merit selection, but makes judicial nomination commission recommendations advisory; allows governor to ignore recommendations.

HB 1702 / SB 646 Requires judges selected via merit selection system receive 75% yes in retention election.

HB 3452 / SB 2794 Retains merit selection, but alters nomination process and adds confirmation.

HB 3691 / SB 3652 Requires House and Senate speakers appoint all nine members of the judicial evaluation commission since the judicial council no longer exists.

Utah – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court, Juvenile Court: No activity

Vermont – Supreme Court, Superior Court, District Court: No activity

West Virginia – Supreme Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, Family Court [interim only]: No activity

Wyoming – Supreme Court, District Court, Circuit Court: No activity

 

Ohio Issue 1: What other states tried to increase or remove their judicial retirement ages and how did they do?

Ohio voters will head to the polls November 8 to decide the fate of Issue 1, marking the sixth time in 20 years the question of judicial retirement has been on the ballot (Hawaii 2006; Louisiana 1995 & 2003; Pennsylvania 2001; Texas 2007; Vermont 2002), with 4 victories to 2 defeats.

Four legislatures have adopted statutes to alter retirement (Indiana 2011; Kansas 2003 & 2010; North Carolina 1992; Vermont 2003). Moreover, Arizona has advanced a proposed change for the 2012 ballot while New York voters will probably address the issue in 2014. This marks a trend over the last several years in particular of state legislatures confronting judges living longer and the question of whether there should be any limits on service at all.

State by state breakdown below the fold.

Continue reading Ohio Issue 1: What other states tried to increase or remove their judicial retirement ages and how did they do?

Why Senate confirmation for state judicial nominees? Why not House? Or joint?

Numerous state legislatures in 2011 that have a version of merit selection (Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma) or have considered adopting merit selection (Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) have put in provisions for Senate confirmation. Additionally, Rhode Island (HB 5675) considered removing the state senate’s existing confirmation power with respect to a trial court (Superior Court) and transferring the power to the house.

But the question arises: why Senate confirmation? There’s the case for reference to the U.S. Senate and its role in federal judicial confirmations. And this was consistent when a) state senators were elected by counties to represent the county as a whole (as in New Jersey) or clusters of counties (as in New York) and b) trial judges (and occasionally appellate judges) were picked by districts made up of clusters of counties.

Thanks to one person/one vote decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court over the years, the practice of Senate districts following county lines is over. The practice of appellate judges being chosen based on geography is also on the decline with only 10 states continuing to use the practice for courts of last resort and 17 of 40 states with intermediate appellate courts using district based selection (although Montana may buck the trend in 2012, Oregon voters rejected the idea 2-1 in 2006).

Moreover, as I noted in March, such proposals have fared much better in state senates than in state houses, and history bears this out. In short, when the power to confirm has been handed solely to the state senate, it has had mixed support in the state’s house. The only way it happens, normally, is when there is a litany of other issues in play.

When does Senate confirmation of appellate nominees come into a constitution?

  • Conventions changing entire constitution: Delaware, Hawaii, and New Jersey
  • Constitutional amendment changing most/entire Judiciary Article: Maryland (1970 attempt) and Utah
  • Constitutional amendment changing judicial selection only: Maryland (1976), New York
  • Constitutional amendment changing most/entire Executive Branch Article: Maine, Vermont

In the case of Maryland (1976) and New York (1977) the amendments to have Senate confirmation met with lower House approval as part of a package of bills related to the courts.

This institutional inertia may explain some 2011 activity. Consider the following:

  • The original Florida House proposal HJR 7111, introduced March 22, 2011 included nothing about Senate confirmation of justices of the planned modified supreme court with civil and criminal panels. The only mention of the Senate was a provision stripping the power of the court(s) to name their chief justice and giving it to the Governor with Senate confirmation. Six days later, SJR 1664 requiring Senate confirmation for the Supreme Court was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. On April 5, the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee gave its approval of SJR 1664. By April 8, SCR 1046) and Oklahoma Senate (SB 621) did not fare as well. The Arizona bill went nowhere. The Oklahoma bill moved through the Senate and was not even brought up for a House committee hearing.

Roles of legislatures in appellate judicial selection

Both chambers

Connecticut: since the 1818 Constitution. An 1880 amendment (Article XXVI) allowed for the Governor to nominate, but still required confirmation by both chambers. A 1986 amendment added merit selection, permitting the Governor to nominate only from those names submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission.

Rhode Island: since the 1842 Constitution and kept as part of the 1986 constitution. A 1994 amendment added merit selection, permitting the Governor to nominate only from those names submitted by an independent non-partisan judicial nominating commission.

South Carolina: since the 1776 Constitution and kept as a part of the 1778, 1790, 1861, 1865 and 1868 constitutions, plus a 1973 revision to the judiciary article. A 1997 constitutional amendment added merit selection allowing the legislature to elect only from those names submitted by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission.

Virginia: since the 1776 Constitution and kept as part of the 1850, 1861, 1864, 1870, and 1902 constitutions.

Senate only

Delaware: since the 1897 Constitution. The 1776 Constitution specified a joint ballot of both chambers of the general assembly and the “president” (i.e. governor) of the state. The 1792 and 1831 Constitutions placed the power of appointment solely in the hands of the Governor.

Hawaii: since the 1949 Constitution.

Maryland: since a 1976 constitutional amendment. The 1776 Constitution gave appointment to the Governor with the Council “for the time being” and put it solely in the hands of the Governor via an 1837 amendment. Maryland’s 1864 Constitution provided for direct election of the judges of the top court (Court of Appeals), but provided the Governor with Senate confirmation would select the chief judge. The 1867 Constitution made 7 of the 8 chief judges of the state’s judicial circuits the state’s top court and provided the Governor with the confirmation of the Senate would select the chief judge of the Court of Appeals. This practice continued until a 1943 constitutional amendment separated the roles of chief circuit judge from judge of the Court of Appeals but still required direct election. A 1960 amendment reaffirmed direct election, while changing the geographic boundaries.

It should be noted that the Maryland proposal was initially rejected in 1970 (1970 version) and included most courts in the state (judges of the Court of Appeals, intermediate courts of appeal, Circuit Courts, and the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City), increased terms of office to 15 years, and made revisions to the power of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities which had just been created in 1966. The successful 1976 version focused exclusively on merit selection with Senate confirmation for appellate courts only.

New Jersey: since the 1844 Constitution. The 1776 Constitution made the Governor and Council the state’s top court (Court of Appeals). The current 1947 Constitution replicated the Governor-appoints-Senate confirms system of the 1844 Constitution, but with a significant change. Rather than being re-confirmed every 7 years, the justices would face only 2 Senate confirmations: one for their initial appointment and a second after 7 years. If reconfirmed a second time, they would remain in office until age 70.

New York Court of Appeals (state’s court of last resort): sporadically since the 1777 Constitution. Under the 1777 Constitution, a Council on Appointments made up of 4 Senators chosen by the Assembly, plus the Governor (to break ties) was used. The 1821 Constitution changed this to a Governor-appoints-Senate-confirms system. The 1846 Constitution created a bifurcated election system: 4 of the 8 judges would be elected by the statewide, the other 4 would be locally elected judges of the general jurisdiction court (confusingly called the “supreme court”) “having the shortest time to serve.” A new constitution was voted on, section by section, in 1869; the judicial article was the only one approved. That new article provided for statewide election. The 1894 Constitution and 1938 Constitution continued the statewide election system. A 1977 amendment that revamped much of the Judiciary Article created the present merit-selection-Senate-confirmation system.

10/24/11 update: Selection to the state’s primary intermediate appellate court, the Appellate Division, has no role for the legislature. The Governor alone elevates from the judges elected locally in partisan elections to the general jurisdiction court (confusingly called the “Supreme Court”).

Utah: since a 1984 constitutional amendment. The original 1895 constitution provided for statewide election. The 1984 amendment overhauling the entire Judiciary Article provided for the present merit-selection-Senate-confirmation system. A subsequent 1992 amendment increased the time for the Senate to consider nominations.

Vermont: since a 1971 constitutional amendment. The 1793 Constitution provide for joint election by the unicameral House and Executive Council, a practice that was continued when the Council was made the Senate via a 1836 amendment. An 1890 effort to shift this to the Senate alone was rejected by the Senate itself but was incorporated into the 1971 revision of the state’s entire Judiciary Article.

Hybrid

Maine: since a 1975 constitutional amendment (L.D. 25). The 1820 Constitution in place when Maine was separated from Massachusetts and became a state kept the Massachusetts practice of supreme court selection method of governor-appoints-and-executive-council-confirms. The 1975 amendment abolishing the Council created the current procedure for confirmation: the Governor nominates and a Joint House/Senate legislative committee recommends confirmation or rejection. That recommendation is binding unless the Senate overrides with 2/3 vote.

2011 Northeast indigent defense legislation

Law

Connecticut SB 38 Exempts from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) personnel, medical, or similar files of current or former employees of the Division of Public Defender Services to people in the custody or supervision of the Department of Correction (DOC) or confined in a facility of the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital. Requires public agencies to waive any fees for providing records requested under FOIA if the requestor is a member of the Division of Public Defender Services or court-appointed special assistant public defender and certifies that the records pertain to his or her duties. Specifies that, for purposes of FOIA, the Division of Public Defender Services is considered to be a judicial office. (By law, a judicial office is subject to FOIA only with respect to its administrative functions.)

Maine SB 182 Specifically states which decisions of the executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services must be subject to an appeal process for attorneys aggrieved by such decisions. Specifies method of appeal of such decisions by executive director.

Maine SB 189 Makes certain records in the possession of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services confidential.

New York AB 7932 / SB 5474 Exempts legal aid societies and bureaus and other entities that provide indigent representation from the fees charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles for record searches and copies of documents.

Adopted Resolution

Maine HB 451 Grants emergency approval to changes to Eligibility Requirements for Specialized Case Types, as provisionally adopted by Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Service.

Approved by one chamber

New Jersey AB 3324 / SB 2233 Permits early termination of one-year terms of municipal court public defenders when two or more municipalities enter into agreements to establish joint municipal courts or shared municipal courts. Approved by full Senate. In Assembly Judiciary Committee.

New York AB 7857 / SB 3269 Authorizes public defenders, legal aid societies, and administrators of assigned counsel plans to have access to the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ criminal history records for use in connection with the representation of public defense clients. Approved by full Assembly. In Senate Finance Committee.

Active/Carried over into 2012

Massachusetts SB 748 Removes power of courts to approval fees/costs associated with defense in criminal cases, juvenile delinquency proceedings and youthful offender cases. Requires submission of costs to committee for public counsel services rather than clerk of court. Requires approval of costs associated with defense be made by committee for public counsel services.

Massachusetts HB 3359 / SB 898  Requires judiciary produce report of all criminal and delinquency cases initiated in the courts of the commonwealth during fiscal year 2011, including number of cases in which public defender appointed. Requires parity between funding of prosecutors and public defenders. Requires all criminal and delinquency cases be “weighted” based on case type to establish budgetary amounts that may be appropriated to the committee for public counsel services to pay for public defenders.

Massachusetts HB 1285 Repeals requirement that counsel appointed or assigned to represent indigents within the private counsel division, except any counsel appointed or assigned to represent indigents within the private counsel division in a homicide case, shall be prohibited from accepting any new appointment or assignment to represent indigents after he has billed 1400 billable hours during any fiscal year.

Massachusetts SB 1446 Converts law school tuition into tax credit if attorney serves as public defender or otherwise practices “public interest law” as defined.

Massachusetts SB 1861 Increases hourly compensation levels/amounts payable to indigent defense counsel by $3-$5 per hour, depending on activity.

Massachusetts SB 848 Repeals law with respect to providing legal services for indigents subject to the sex offender registry classification system.

New Hampshire HB 315 Declares an “impeachable offense” the appointment of an attorney or commitment of public funds for an attorney in connection with the representation of any person, whether indigent or not, except as specifically authorized by the New Hampshire constitution, federal or state law, or mandate of the New Hampshire supreme court. Provides such appointment shall be made only upon application of the person making the request and consistent with rules adopted by the New Hampshire supreme court. Prohibits appointment in any court other than the court in which the appointment is made, except to the extent necessary to preserve or perfect an appeal as mandated by the New Hampshire supreme court.

New Jersey SCR 148 (Constitutional Amendment) Creates Public Defender Services Commission established by the amendment.  Provides Commission to appoint Public Defender (currently, Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate). Locates the Public Defender within the courts but gives it independent status.

New Jersey SR 92 Requests New Jersey Supreme Court require attorneys to perform 50 hours of pro bono service per year or make a monetary contribution to Legal Services of New Jersey.

New Jersey AB 3844 / SB 2768 Prohibits the expenditure of State funds by the Office of the Public Defender or other attorney providing the same services, on cosmetic services for defendants in a criminal trial.

New Jersey SB 1812 Authorizes Office of Public Defender to provide legal representation for child in proceedings after parental rights have been terminated.

New York AB 1310 / SB 3261 Provides for free legal representation in certain mortgage foreclosure actions where the homeowner is financially unable to obtain counsel.

New York AB 2749 Establishes the New York state public defense commission to oversee the provision of public defense services in the state. Requires commission establish public defense services standards, provide financial assistance to local governments and public defense providers for expenses incurred in providing legal services to the indigent, provide training to persons in the public defense profession and oversee the provision of public defense services in the state.

New York AB 731 Authorizes any legal aid society or other legal services or non-profit organization that provides legal services to indigent clients to have access to EjusticeNY for the purposes of obtaining, where authorized by their clients, access to records necessary for understanding, correction and applying for Certificates of Rehabilitation.

New York AB 7867 Provides funding under the indigent legal services fund for the New York State Defenders Association.

New York SB 5143 Provides funding under the indigent legal services fund for the New York State Defenders Association (not identical to AB 7867)

Died in committee

Maine SB 225 Requires all new courthouses designs include adequate space for attorneys providing indigent legal services.

Vermont HB 232 Allows a municipal public body to go into an executive session in order to consider applications to or awards from a municipal fund for the poor or indigent.