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Judicial Administration and Administrative Law

VI.    Judicial Administration and Administrative Law

 

House Bill 173     Judicial reform

Reported by the House Judiciary Committee; awaiting a House floor vote

 

House Bill 173 would: 

 

-    increase the number of years of practice prior to becoming eligible for each level of judgeship: 

 

          10 years – Common Pleas

          12 years – Court of Appeals

          15 years – Supreme Court

 

-    codify the concept of a Judicial Appointment Review Commission as instituted by Governor Ted Strickland;

 

-    create a judicial candidate qualification program to be established through the Supreme Court of Ohio; and

 

-    create a process for reviewing the appropriate number of judgeships.  

 

A judicial compensation increase was removed. 

 

A statement from OSBA Immediate Past President John S. Stith is attached as Appendix D. 

 

 House Bill 154     Mayor’s courts

Reported by the House Judiciary Committee; awaiting a House floor vote

 

House Bill 154 would prohibit communities with fewer than 1,600 residents from having a mayor’s court.  Mayor’s courts in these communities would be phased out, and cases would be transferred to a municipal court. 

 

In those communities with populations greater than 1,600, the mayor’s courts would be replaced by a community court, subject to the authority of the Supreme Court of Ohio, which would be conducted by a magistrate (lawyer) appointed by the court. 

 

House Bill 154 would also: 

 

-          require all community courts to have a magistrate in charge of the court; the mayor may no longer be in charge of the court; appointment of the magistrate would be left up to the municipality;

 

-          permit villages that lose their mayor’s courts but have police forces keep 100% of the fine money that they would have normally received;

 

-          permit municipalities to form joint judicial districts if they are physically contiguous; municipalities that are not allowed to have community courts may joint with another municipality that is allowed to have a community court to form a joint judicial district; and

 

-          authorize the Ohio Attorney General to shut down unlawful mayor’s and community courts. 

 

The elimination of mayor’s courts would reduce the conflict of interest when a mayor or mayor’s magistrate decides whether fines should be levied.  Also, this would enhance the professionalism in the operation of these  courts. 

 

Ohio and Louisiana are the only states that still use mayor’s courts. 

 

Of the current 336 mayor’s courts, 142 would be eliminated under House Bill 154, and the rest would become community courts. 

 

A more extensive analysis is attached as Appendix E. 

 

House Bill 537     Retired judges; jury trials

Reported by the House Civil and Commercial Law Committee; awaiting a House floor vote

 

In general, House Bill 537 would permit “private judges,” retired judges engaged by the parties in an action, to conduct jury trials. 

 

Specifically, House Bill 537 would: 

 

-          authorize a retired judge to register with the clerk of a court of common pleas, municipal court, or county court to receive referrals of civil actions for adjudication by the retired judge (existing law) or for trial by jury to be presided over by the retired judge;

 

-          permit the parties to a civil action to seek a retired judge to preside over a jury trial if a party to the action has properly made a demand for a jury trial in accordance with Civil Rule 38;

 

-         require that the parties' written agreement with a retired judge for a referral of the civil action indicate that the parties will assume responsibility for providing, and will pay the costs for, facilities, equipment, personnel, and other support (added by the bill) reasonably necessary for the retired judge or the jury (added by the bill) to advance and consider the action or to determine a specific issue or question;

 

-          require that a trial by jury of a referred action or a determination by a jury of issues in a referred action be conducted in the same manner as trials and determinations by a jury in civil actions, that the selection and summoning of jurors be in accordance with the existing Juror Law, that the fees of the jurors sworn be taxed as costs as in current law, and that the compensation of the jurors be fixed as in current law; and

 

-          require the parties to pay the fees of the jurors if the referred action is settled before the jurors are sworn.

 

House Bill 564     Probate fees

Pending in the House Judiciary Committee

 

House Bill 564 would increase certain fees charged by a probate court. 

 

We also expect a probate court modernization bill this year or next. 

 

House Bill 119     Budget bill (political contributions)

Effective June 30, 2007

 

House Bill 119, the biennial budget, includes a provision that increases the threshold for local governments only from $500 to $10,000 with regard to political contributions and eligibility for county contracts (“fixes” problems resulting from enactment of House Bill 694 at end of 2006 legislative session). 

 

Senate Bill 100    Crimes against judges

Pending in the Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee

 

Senate Bill 100 would: 

 

-          enact Section 2903.23 of the Revised Code to increase the penalties for certain offenses when a judge or magistrate is the victim,

 

-          prohibit a person from threatening a judge or magistrate; and  

 

-          make the killing of a judge or magistrate an aggravating circumstance for the imposition of the death penalty for aggravated murder.   

House Bill 10       Juror compensation
Pending in the House Judiciary Committee

House Bill 10 would: 

 

-          authorize the legislative authority of a municipal court to request the board of county commissioners to fix the compensation of jurors of that municipal court in an amount that differs from the compensation of jurors in the court of common pleas; and

 

-          authorize the board upon receipt of that request to approve or deny it.

Under existing law, jurors in municipal court receive the same fees as jurors in common pleas court.  A juror in common pleas court receives a base per diem compensation set by the board of county commissioners.  After ten days of actual service, the compensation for each additional day is an amount equal to the greater of $15 or one and one-half times the base compensation, unless the board establishes a greater amount not exceeding twice the base compensation. 

The bill provides that the fees received by jurors in municipal court are the same as those received by jurors in the court of common pleas unless the board of county commissioners approves a request from the legislative authority of the municipal court to prescribe a different fee. 

Senate Bill 108    Prohibits granting judicial release to elected officials in jail

Passed the Senate; pending in the House Criminal Justice Committee   

 

Existing law contains a mechanism pursuant to which certain offenders who are serving a prison term for a felony may apply for and, after a hearing by a court (and the court makes specified determinations in certain circumstances), be granted a "judicial release" from the prison term.  The judicial release mechanism is available only for "eligible offenders."  Under existing law, "eligible offender" means any person serving a stated prison term of ten years or less when either of the following applies:  (1) the "stated prison" term does not include a "mandatory prison term," or (2) the stated prison term includes a "mandatory prison term," and the person has served the mandatory prison term. 

 

The bill excludes from the definition of "eligible offender" any person who is serving a "stated prison term" for any of certain criminal offenses that were a felony and were committed while the person held a "public office" in Ohio ("public office" is defined by the bill as any elected federal, state, or local government office in Ohio). 

 

Senate Bill 309    Private right of action must be created by statute

Passed the Senate; pending in the House Judiciary Committee

 

Senate Bill 309 would eliminate common law causes of action, and: 

 

-          require that statutes enacted in Ohio that create a private right of action contain express language providing for that right; and

 

-          provide that this requirement applies to all statutes enacted by the General Assembly on or after the effective date of the bill and requires that any bill that creates a private right of action and is pending in the General Assembly on the effective date of the bill contain express language providing for that right of action. 

 

Specifically, Senate Bill 309 would require that any statute enacted in Ohio that creates a private right of action contain express language providing for that right of action.  A court of this state may not construe any statute enacted in this state to imply the creation of a private right of action in the absence of express language providing for that right of action. 

 

The requirement would apply to all statutes enacted by the General Assembly on or after the effective date of the bill.  Any bill that creates a private right of action and is pending in the General Assembly on the effective date of this bill must contain express language providing for that right of action.

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