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Week ending August 10, 2012

Indicates featured legislation

Focus Trend: November 2012 ballot items

While a great deal of focus is being drawn to the 2012 presidential elections, November 2012 is set to be an incredibly busy election for state courts. Starting with this issue, Gavel to Gavel will spend the next 10 weeks to the election examining through this e-newsletter, the blog and YouTube channel the various items on the ballot.

Alabama HB 735 / Covington County Local Amendment Provides for the law library fee in the county and to ratify, approve, validate and confirm any court costs levied pursuant to local law enacted prior to the adoption of this amendment. (updated 8/21/12)

Alabama SB 344 / Marion County Local Amendment Permits the Legislature, by general or local law, to fix, regulate, and alter the costs and charges of courts in Marion County and provide for their distribution.

Alabama SB 581 / Etowah County Local Amendment 2 Authorizes the Legislature, by local or general act, to fix, regulate, and alter the costs and charges of court and to ratify and confirm any local law authorizing any additional court costs enacted prior to the adoption of this amendment. (updated 8/21/12)

Arizona SCR 1001 / Proposition 115

Qualifications & Terms: Increases to 8 years the term of office for Supreme, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court judges starting in 2013. Increases the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 years old.

Selection (Appellate and Trial Court Commissions): Removes the requirement that attorney members be nominated by the Board of Governors of the Arizona State Bar. Establishes that four attorney members be appointed by the Governor and one member be appointed by the President of the State Bar. Requires, upon an attorney member vacancy, the Arizona Bar to solicit, review and forward to the Governor all applications and recommendations for appointment. Increases the time period attorney members must be admitted to practice from 5 to 10 years. Specifies that attorney members must be in good standing with the state bar, have no formal disciplinary complaints and have never been formally sanctioned as a result of disciplinary action. Requires the Commissions to submit at least eight nominees, rather than three, to the Governor to fill a vacancy in the office of a justice or judge of the Supreme Court, Appellate Court or superior court. Permits the Commissions to reject an applicant and submit less than eight nominees, unless the applicant receives a two-thirds vote. Requires the Commissions to nominate any applicant who receives a majority vote. Requires, if more than one vacancy exists in the same court at the same time, the Commissions to submit the names of at least six persons nominated to fill each vacancy and prohibits the submission of the name of the same person for more than one vacancy. Permits the Governor to make an appointment from any of the nominees presented for any of the vacancies in that court, if more than one vacancy exists in the same court at the same time.

Selection (Supreme Court): Must make available through its website, every written opinion or order that is issued by a judge of a court of record that resolves a contested matter of law and that is not sealed or confidential. Must transmit a copy of the judicial performance review of each justice and judge who is up for retention to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least 60 days before the regular primary election.

Selection (Legislature): Permits a joint legislative committee consisting of the Senate and House Judiciary committees to meet and take testimony on the justices and judges who are up for retention at least 60 days prior to the general election.

Florida HJR 7111 / Amendment 5

Selection: Retains judicial nomination commissions but requires for Supreme Court justices only nominees selected by the governor be subject to senate confirmation.

Rule Making: Allows legislature to repeal any rule adopted by the Supreme Court by a majority vote (currently, requires two-thirds of legislature). Allows court to readopt the rule, so long as it was in conformance with the policy expressed in the repeal bill or resolution. Provides if rule is repealed a second time, the Supreme Court could not readopt it without legislative permission.

Other: Removes the Governor's power to ask the judicial qualifications commission for all information on investigations/complaints against judges. Provides commission would still be obligated to turn such information over, on request, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Provides all information so turned over would remain confidential during any investigation and until such information is used in the pursuit of any impeachment.

Hawaii SB 650 / No number assigned Authorizes the chief justice of the supreme court to appoint judges who have retired upon attaining the age of seventy years as emeritus judges, permitting the appointed judges to serve as per diem judges or judicial mentors in courts no higher than the court level they reached prior to retirement and for terms not to exceed three months.

Maryland SB 281 (of 2011) / Prince George's County - Orphans' Court Judges - Qualifications Requires Orphan's Court judges in Prince George's County be attorneys.

Maryland SB 48 (of 2012) / Baltimore County – Orphans' Court Judges - Qualifications Requires Orphan's Court judges in Baltimore County be attorneys.

Missouri SJR 51 / Constitutional Amendment 3 Increases the number of individuals that the Appellate Judicial Commission nominates for vacancies in the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals from three to four. Replaces the Supreme Court member who currently serves as commission chair with additional person chosen by Governor. Allows Supreme Court to appoint a former Supreme Court or Court of Appeals judge to serve as a nonvoting member of the commission if the former judge has not been removed for cause or failed to be retained in a retention election. Provides members appointed by the Governor no longer must be non-bar members. Provides appointed members will serve terms of four years, staggered so that a Governor will appoint two when taking office and two during the middle of his or her term.

New Hampshire CACR 26 / No number assigned Provides "The legislature shall have a concurrent power to regulate [the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court] by statute. In the event of a conflict between a statute and a court rule, the statute, if not otherwise contrary to this constitution, shall prevail over the rule."

New Jersey SCR 110 / Constitutional Amendment 1 Changes provision of constitution prohibiting diminished of judicial salaries while in office to provide diminishment may not occur "except for deductions from such salaries for contributions, established by law from time to time, for pensions as provided for under paragraphs 3 and 5 of Section VI of this Article, health benefits, and other, similar benefits."

New Mexico HJR 18 / Constitutional Amendment 1 Adds magistrate judge and additional member of public to Judicial Standards Commission.

Ohio Redistricting Amendment (Initiative Petition) Creates independent redistricting commission. Requires Chief Justice select 8 Court of Appeals judges, no more than 4 of whom can be from the same party. 8 judge panel to appoint auditor and select 42 potential redistricting commission members (3 groups of 14) from all applicants. Provides at least 5 of 8 judges must agree on each potential commissioner. Provides legislative leaders to strike group members until 24 remain: 8 Republican, 8 Democrat, 8 Independent. From the 24 remaining, Court of Appeals judges to select at random 3 from each. Provides Ohio Supreme Court with exclusive jurisdiction on redistricting and requires, if commission unable to reach agreement on plan, Supreme Court to pick from plans submitted to commission that meet criteria set elsewhere in amendment. Provides such boundaries picked by Supreme Court to last for a single election cycle.

Oregon HJR 44 / Measure 78 Redefines executive, legislative, and judicial "departments" as "branches".

Wyoming HJR 1 (of 2011) / Constitutional Amendment C 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.

Jurisdiction: Newly Introduced

Kentucky HB 13 (2013) Provides that the rights of an individual afforded under the Constitutions of Kentucky and the United States take precedence over the application of any foreign law in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding. Prefiled (no committee).

Jurisdiction: Floor and Committee Activity


Qualifications and Terms: Newly Introduced


Qualifications and Terms: Floor and Committee Activity


Rule Making Authority: Newly Introduced


Rule Making Authority: Floor and Committee Activity


Salary and Budget: Newly Introduced


Salary and Budget: Floor and Committee Activity


Selection: Newly Introduced


Selection: Floor and Committee Activity


Structure Changes: Newly Introduced


Structure Changes: Floor and Committee Activity


Other: Newly Introduced


Other: Floor and Committee Activity