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Week ending February 10, 2012

Indicates featured legislation

Focus Trend: Letting more people carry guns into courthouses

The last two years may go on record as the busiest ever on the subject of guns in courthouses. In 2011, at least three states (Mississippi HB 506 & HB 881, Tennessee HB 2039 / SB 1775, and Wisconsin SB 93) expanded the list of people who could carry firearms into courthouses and even courtrooms. Just this week Virginia's House voted to allow city and county treasurers to carry guns into the courthouses in the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, Tennessee legislators who just last year allowed judges to carry guns into courthouses if they receive yearly training are attempting to repeal the requirements.

Proponents of loosening restrictions point to the Second Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago to argue that such bans should be eliminated or restricted to the absolute minimum (i.e. the courtroom). Opponents argue that the tense circumstances of cases and the constant concern of judges, court staff, and others being shot by irate litigants weigh against such expansions.

Bills actively pending in 2012 include:

Georgia SB 102 Adds general exemption from prohibition on carrying of firearms into courthouses to "All persons holding elected state or local offices in this state" not otherwise specified elsewhere in law. Approved by full Senate 3/16/11. Carried over into 2012 session.

Hawaii HB 417 Permits a justice or judge to carry concealed on their person a loaded firearm for personal protection. Grants exemption to justices and judges from prohibition on firearms in detention facilities, prisons, courthouses, city halls, or public buildings. In House Public Safety & Military Affairs Committee. Carried over into 2012 session.

Hawaii SB 835 Provides judge may carry a concealed weapon into courtroom and determine who else may carry a weapon into the courtroom. In Senate Committee on Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs. Carried over into 2012 session.

Hawaii SB 836 Provides judge may carry a concealed weapon into courtroom and determine who else may carry a weapon into the courtroom. In Senate Committee on Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs. Carried over into 2012 session.

Illinois HB 112 Explicitly permits judge with concealed firearms permit to carry firearm into court. In House Rules Committee. Carried over into 2012 session.

Illinois HB 1403 & SB 2150 Explicitly permits judge with concealed firearms permit to carry firearm into court. House Version: In House Agriculture & Conservation Committee. Senate Version: In Public Health Committee’s Subcommittee on Special Issues. Carried over into 2012 session.

Illinois HB 148 ORIGINAL: Explicitly permits judge with concealed firearms permit to carry firearm into court. AS AMENDED: Removes any reference to allowing carrying into court. On House floor. Carried over into 2012 session

Kentucky HB 280 Removes provision that generally prohibits carrying of firearms into any courthouse. In House Judiciary Committee.

Massachusetts HB 2166 Allows police officers to carry their firearms in any courthouse or court facility except prisoner lockups and where the police officer is attending to personal pending litigation. In Joint Committee on Judiciary. Carried over into 2012 session.

New Hampshire HB 1605 Provides that unless courts make lockers available, the general prohibition on carrying of firearms in courthouses is waived.

New Hampshire HB 536 ORIGINAL: Repeals the prohibition on carrying a pistol, revolver, firearm, or other deadly weapon in a courtroom or other area used by a court. AMENDED: Removes language repealing prohibition on carrying in courthouses. Amended by House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee 10/25/11. Carried over into 2012 session.

New Mexico HB 140 Permits judge with concealed handgun license to carry into judge's court facility. In House Rules Committee.

North Carolina HB 184 Allows any elected official with a concealed handgun permit to carry into any courthouse in the state. In House Judiciary Subcommittee A. Carried over into 2012 session.

Oklahoma SB 1733 Permits appellate judges with handgun license to carry firearm into any courthouse in the state. In Senate Public Safety Committee.

South Carolina HB 3405 Allows any elected or appointed official, including clerks of court, to carry a firearm “anywhere within this State.” In House Committee on Judiciary. Carried over into 2012 session.

South Carolina HB 3639 Repeals restriction on carrying of firearms into courthouses. In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over into 2012 session.

South Carolina HB 3405 Allows any elected or appointed official, including clerks of court, to carry a firearm anywhere in state. Carried over from 2011 session.

Tennessee HB 3222 & SB 2942 Allows a person to carry a firearm during a judicial proceeding if the person is a judge, has a handgun carry permit and only carries the gun concealed while engaged in judicial duties. Eliminates requirement that judge seeking to carry firearm in court must successfully complete sixteen hours of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission training and an additional 8 hours of POST training every year.

Virginia HB 288 Permits city and county treasurers to carry a weapon into courthouses. Approved by full House 2/14/12.

West Virginia HB 4513 Repeals general restrictions on carrying of firearms into courthouses. Limits restriction on carrying of firearms to only those precise locations where judicial proceedings are held. In House Judiciary Committee.

Jurisdiction: Newly Introduced

Alabama HB 147 Grants circuit court exclusive jurisdiction in cases over $25,000 (currently $10,000). Grants district court concurrent jurisdiction with circuit court in cases up to $25,000 (currently $10,000). In House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama HB 201 Grants circuit court exclusive jurisdiction in cases over $25,000 (currently $10,000). Grants district court concurrent jurisdiction with circuit court in cases up to $25,000 (currently $10,000). Increases small claims to $5,000 (from $3,000). In House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama HB 248 Grants circuit court exclusive jurisdiction in cases over $20,000 (currently $10,000). Grants district court concurrent jurisdiction with circuit court in cases up to $20,000 (currently $10,000). Increases small claims to $5,000 (from $3,000). Increases fine for contempt to $500 (from $100). In House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama SB 33 (Constitutional Amendment) Defines foreign law as "any law, rule, or legal code, or system established, used, or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States, or which exist as a separate body of law, legal code, or system adopted or used anywhere by any people, group, or culture different from the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Alabama." Provides "A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, arbitrative, or enforcement authority shall not apply or enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate any state law or a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States." In Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections Committee.

Alabama SB 40 (Constitutional Amendment) Defines foreign law as "any law, rule, or legal code, or system established, used, or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States, or which exist as a separate body of law, legal code, or system adopted or used anywhere by any people, group, or culture different from the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Alabama." Provides "A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, arbitrative, or enforcement authority shall not apply or enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate any state law or a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States." In Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections Committee.

Kentucky HB 386 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. In House Judiciary Committee.

Jurisdiction: Floor and Committee Activity

South Dakota HB 1253 Prohibits judicial enforcement of any religious codes. Approved by House Judiciary Committee 2/10/12.

Qualifications and Terms: Newly Introduced

Alabama HB 265 Requires all probate judges be attorneys (currently, only probate judges in 2 counties must be attorneys). In House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama SB 138 Allows a former or retired judge with certain qualifications to preside over cases in a circuit or district court. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

Alabama SB 256 Increases mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

Iowa SB 2132 Repeals law exempting associate juvenile judges and associate probate judges from the mandatory retirement age of 72 years of age if the judge was 72 years of age or older on July 1, 1996. Applies mandatory retirement on January 1, 2013, to any associate juvenile judge or associate probate judge who is 72 years of age or older on January 1, 2013. In Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Maryland SB 616 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases from 70 to 72 the mandatory retirement age for judges. Requires that judges serving after age 70 must be certified as fit by state's court of last resort (Court of Appeals). In Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Minnesota HB 2111 Provides each congressional district in state is entitled to at least 2 Court of Appeals judges (currently, entitled to 1). In House Judiciary Policy and Finance.

Qualifications and Terms: Floor and Committee Activity

Florida HB 4055 Repeals provisions relating to restricting practice of law by retired justices, requirement to appoint Clerk of Supreme Court, requirement that clerk have office in Supreme Clerk Building, requirement that clerk perform duties as directed by court, & provision by which rules of court supersede statutes. Approved by full House 2/3/12.

Hawaii SB 2206 (Constitutional Amendment) Increases the mandatory retirement age for justices and judges from 70 to 80 years of age. Approved by full Senate 2/6/12.

Maryland HB 4 (Constitutional Amendment) Requires judges of the Orphans' Courts *in Baltimore County only* be attorneys. Approved by House Committee on Judiciary 2/6/12.

South Dakota SB 76 ORIGINAL: Provides judge or justice reaching 70 may serve out current term. AS AMENDED: Provides judge or justice reaching 70 may serve out current term if permitted to do so by Chief Justice. Approved by full Senate 2/2/12.

Virginia SJR 69 Directs the State Crime Commission to study mandatory retirement of judges. Deferred to 2013 session by Senate Rules Committee 2/10/12.

Washington SB 6025 AS AMENDED: Eliminates altogether mandatory retirement age for district judges only. Approved as amended by full Senate 2/10/12.

Rule Making Authority: Newly Introduced

Illinois HB 5329 Authorizes the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt rules for expedited civil case handling for cases below $100,000. In House Rules Committee.

Rule Making Authority: Floor and Committee Activity

West Virginia HB 4291 Authorizes the Supreme Court of Appeals to determine which county law libraries are being used and should be continued as an obligation of the state. Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 2/9/12.

Salary and Budget: Newly Introduced

Connecticut HB 5034 Makes alterations and changes to judicial retirement plans. In Joint Committee on Judiciary.

Connecticut SB 31 Creates commission on compensation to set judicial salaries every four years. Commission's recommendations go into effect automatically unless modified or abrogated by legislature. In Joint Committee on Judiciary.

Illinois HR 776 Requests Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability study the impact of time and interest on the underfunding of the State-funded retirement systems, including Judge's Retirement System. In House (no committee).

Maryland HB 645 Creates a cash balance plan under the State Retirement and Pension System and requires circuit court clerks join it. In House Appropriations Committee.

Maryland HB 653 Creates a cash balance plan under the State Retirement and Pension System and requires circuit court clerks join it. In House Appropriations Committee.

Minnesota HB 2112 Allows reimbursement of housing and mileage expenses for judges of the Court of Appeals living more than 50 miles from their permanent chambers. In House Judiciary Policy and Finance.

Mississippi SB 2331 Increases fee for filing complaints, petitions, and indictments from $75 to $100. In Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee.

Missouri HB 1667 Authorizes circuit courts that reimburse the state for salaries of family court commissioners to charge up to a $20 surcharge when a party files a civil court case. In House (no committee).

Missouri SB 765 Authorizes clerk of court to charge $10 on garnishments to maintain and improve case processing and record preservation. In Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

Oklahoma HB 3121 Reduces various court costs. In House Rules Committee.

Oklahoma HB 3132 Increases court costs collected for alternative dispute resolution system. In House Rules Committee.

Salary and Budget: Floor and Committee Activity

Arizona HB 2283 Specifies that for state benefits purposes, "state employee" includes only those employed by the judicial branch whose salaries are paid for by the state. Approved by full House 2/6/12.

Florida HB 5403 Redirects revenue from filing fees for civil actions in circuit court relating to real property or mortgage foreclosure from State Courts Revenue Trust Fund to General Revenue Fund. Approved by full House 2/9/12.

Florida SB 1166 Amends current law relating to the responsibilities of the clerks of the court to enhance the collection of court fees and fines and to improve the efficiency of their operations. Requires a broader use of the Comprehensive Case Information System (CCIS) among state agencies to reduce operational costs and duties of the clerks of the court. Requires the Department of the Lottery to use the CCIS, rather than rely on notification from the judiciary and other state agencies to enforce the current prohibition on paying a prize of $600 or more before collecting outstanding fines and support obligations. Provides that filing fees are due when a party files a pleading to initiate a proceeding. Provides that with respect to criminal financial obligations, a previously imposed criminal or civil judgment constitutes a civil lien against the judgment debtor’s real or personal property. Approved by Senate Committee on Regulated Industries 2/7/12.

Georgia HB 236 Provides judges and court employees hired or coming into office after a certain date are no longer permitted to become Retirement System of Georgia members. Approved by House Committee on Retirement 2/9/12.

Illinois SB 1047 Provides that pursuant to an administrative order from the chief judge of the circuit or the presiding judge of the county authorizing such collection, a clerk of the circuit court in any county that imposes a court automation fee shall also charge and collect an additional $10 operations fee for probation and court services department operations. Approved by Judiciary II - Criminal Law Committee 2/7/12.

Kentucky HB 300 Requires that an audit of the Judicial Form Retirement System shall be performed by the Auditor of Public Accounts at least once every five years. Requires the governing board and investment committee for the Judicial Retirement Plan establish ethics policies and procedures. Establishes term limits for members and chairs of the Board of Trustees of the Judicial Retirement System. Requires the Judicial Form Retirement System to make available on a public website all system expenditures, except protected individual retirement-specific records of members/retirees of the Judicial Retirement Plan. Establishes conflict of interest provisions for System trustees and employees. Establishes mandate that no funds of the Judicial Retirement Plan shall be used to pay unregulated placement agents. Approved by House State Government Committee 2/9/12.

New Mexico HB 72 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." Approved by full House 2/4/12.

New Mexico HB 188 Increases salaries for probate court judges, clerks of court, and other county officials. Approved by House Health & Government Affairs Committee 2/7/12. Approved by full House 2/9/12.

New Mexico HB 226 Alters percentages members of judicial retirement fund must contributed on annual basis. Approved by House Labor & Human Resources Committee 2/9/12.

New Mexico SB 217 Increases from $4 to $7 temporary magistrate court operations fee charged on penalty assessment misdemeanors. Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 2/3/12.

New Mexico SB 228 Alters percentages members of judicial retirement fund must contributed on annual basis. Approved by Senate Public Affairs Committee 2/2/12.

Tennessee SB 2769 Authorizes collection of criminal court fines, costs and litigation taxes in same manner as civil debt. Approved by Senate State & Local Government Committee 2/7/12.

Virginia HB 482 Replaces the $5 Technology Trust Fund Fee with a $4 Local Technology Trust Fund Fee and a $1 State Technology Trust Fund Fee. Provides $4 local fee will be deposited into the circuit court clerk's nonreverting fund to be used for the operational expenses associated with providing secure remote access to land records. Provides $1 state fee is paid to a state trust fund and may be allocated by the State Compensation Board to those clerks' offices whose deposits from the local fund are not sufficient for modernizing access to records. Tabled by House Committee on Appropriations General Government Subcommittee 2/8/12.

Virginia HB 837 Clarifies that local salary supplements may be paid to clerks and other local district court employees, excepting district court judges and substitute judges, wholly out of local funds. Approved by full House 2/3/12.

Selection: Newly Introduced

Alabama HB 202 Provides for the nonpartisan election of candidates for state attorney general and state appellate judicial office. In House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee.

Georgia HB 949 Moves judicial elections to July. In House Committee on Governmental Affairs.

Michigan HJR 41 (Constitutional Amendment) Eliminates elections for supreme court. Provides for appointment by governor and senate confirmation. In House Judiciary Committee.

Mississippi HB 133 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides that justices and justices of the appellate courts are to be initially appointed by the Governor with Senate confirmation. Provides for reappointment and reconfirmation for subsequent terms. In House Judiciary A Committee.

Missouri HJR 77 (Constitutional Amendment) Ends merit selection in state. Requires all judicial elections be partisan elections. Reduces supreme court terms from 12 to 8 years. Requires general assembly redistrict circuits after every census. In House Special Standing Committee on Judicial Reform.

Selection: Floor and Committee Activity

Hawaii SB 2205 (Constitutional Amendment) Lowers the number of nominees presented by the judicial selection commission to fill state court judicial vacancies: For Supreme, Intermediate Appellate & Circuit: from 4-6 to specifically 3. For District: from not less than 6 to specifically 3. Approved by full Senate 2/6/12.

Hawaii SB 2209 (Constitutional Amendment) Requires the judicial selection commission to disclose the names of and other statistical information regarding active nominees and applicants to fill justice and judge vacancies. Approved by full Senate 2/8/12.

New Mexico SB 24 Creates judicial nominating commission fund for the operation and costs of judicial nominating commissions, including the expense of organizing the commissions and per diem and mileage for commission members. Approved by full Senate 2/8/12.

West Virginia HB 4314 Provides where a vacancy occurs in office of magistrate judge, person appointed must be of same political party as former officeholder. Approved by full House 2/6/12.

Structure Changes: Newly Introduced

Missouri SB 768 Authorizes circuit courts or a combination of circuits to create veterans treatment courts. Requires courts dispose of cases involving substance abuse or mental illness of current or former military personnel. In Senate Veterans' Affairs, Emerging Issues, Pensions and Urban Affairs Committee.

Structure Changes: Floor and Committee Activity

Virginia SB 630 Abolishes Court of Appeals effective October 1, 2012. Stricken at the request of patron 2/6/12.

Other: Newly Introduced

Alabama HB 99 Makes it a crime to act, without authority, as a judge, magistrate, hearing officer, juror, clerk of court, or any other official with the authority to adjudicate the rights or interests of another, or to sign a document in this capacity as if authorized by state law. In House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama SB 17 (Constitutional Amendment) Permits recall of all elected officials, including judges. In Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections Committee.

Alabama SB 64 Allows a judge or other public servant to request to remove a false instrument that has been filed against the public servant to be removed to circuit court and be expedited. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

Alabama SB 225 Allows a judge or other public servant to request to remove a false instrument that has been filed against the public servant to be removed to circuit court and be expedited. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

Illinois HB 5187 Requires clerk of court post the rights of crime victims set forth in the Illinois Constitution and in law within 3 feet of the door to any courtroom where criminal proceedings are conducted. In House Rules Committee.

Iowa HB 2232 Directs the state court administrator to convene a task force to review the outcomes of contested child custody proceedings and the awarding of joint physical care. In House Human Resources Committee.

Kentucky SB 140 Expresses the legislative intent that a family division of the Circuit Court is to promote the concept of one family-one judge. Requires the circuit clerk, during a family division realignment, to maintain the one family-one judge relationship to the extent reasonably practical. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

New Mexico HM 61 Requests administrative office of the courts study and identify actions, to include resources needed, to support a request that the New Mexico supreme court appoint a special auditor to conduct a census of open guardianship and conservator proceedings, by district, throughout the state and grant the special auditor access to the probate court case management system, or to case files if required information is not available through an automated or electronic system, in each district. In House Judiciary Committee.

Utah SB 227 Requires a Youth Court that accepts referrals to be certified. In Senate Rules Committee.

Other: Floor and Committee Activity

Arizona SB 1365 Provides "Government shall not deny, suspend or revoke a professional or occupational license, certificate or registration based on a person's exercise of religion...A person's exercise of religion is not unprofessional conduct." Specifies ""Government" includes all courts and administrative bodies or entities under the jurisdiction of the Arizona supreme court." Approved by Senate Government Reform Committee 2/8/12.

Florida SB 462 Repeals provisions relating to regular terms of Supreme Court & circuit courts; requiring judge to attend first day of each term of circuit court; requirement for judge to state reason for nonattendance, penalty for nonattendance of judge, adjournment of circuit court upon nonattendance of judge, calling all cases on docket at end of each term, regular terms of district courts of appeal, special terms of district courts of appeal, requirement that criminal trials be heard in term of court prior to civil cases, & requirement that persons in custody be arraigned & tried in term of court unless good cause is shown; conforms provisions. Allows Supreme Court to set terms of court for Supreme Court, district courts of appeal, & circuit courts. Provides that appellate courts may withdraw mandate within 120 days after its issuance. Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 2/9/12.

Idaho SB 1222 Deletes references to probate judges and justices of the peace, which were abolished in 1971. Approved by House Judiciary Committee 2/8/12.

New Hampshire CACR 32 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides that the people of New Hampshire, in a manner established by law, shall be responsible for investigating and evaluating the conduct of members of the judiciary, including imposition of fines. Rejected by House Committee on Judiciary 2/8/12.

South Carolina HB 3066 ORIGINAL: Transfers control of Supreme Court Building to State Budget and Control Board. AS AMENDED: Modifies provisions with respect to General Services Division services provided for Supreme Court. Amended on Senate floor 2/15/12.

Virginia HB 1250 Adds to the ranks of the honorary members of the Judicial Conference of Virginia the deans of the Liberty University School of Law and the Appalachian School of Law. Approved by full House 2/3/12.

Virginia HB 1284 Clarifies when the clerk of the court may destroy case file papers. Approved by House Committee for Courts of Justice 2/10/12.

Virginia HB 484 Provides that the operational expenses associated with providing secure remote access to land records includes locating technology in an offsite facility for purposes of improving public access or for the implementation of a disaster recovery plan. The bill extends the prohibition on selling or posting data accessed by secure remote access to include land records. Further requires the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court to establish security and data standards for interfacing between a circuit court's case management or financial management system and the systems of the Supreme Court. Approved by House Committee for Courts of Justice 2/3/12. Approved by full House 2/9/12.

Virginia HB 745 Requires the Supreme Court to develop a weighted caseload system to assess judicial caseloads throughout the Commonwealth, and using that system, requires the Court to determine the need for judicial positions and the optimum distribution of judicial positions throughout the Commonwealth and to prepare a recommended plan for the realignment of the circuit boundaries. Approved by House Appropriations Committee 2/8/12.

Virginia HJR 111 Requests the Judicial Council of Virginia to study the jurisdictional capacity of the Court of Appeals and whether such capacity should be expanded. Approved by full House 2/10/12.

Virginia SB 251 AS AMENDED: Provides that certain court fees collected by the clerk of a circuit court shall be deposited into a special revenue fund in the local treasury. Institutes a fee of $25 for recording an order to celebrate the rites of marriage by a non-minister and a convenience fee for paying court fees by credit or debit card. Approved as amended by Senate Finance Committee 2/9/12.