SB650 (2020) Detail

Relative to the payment of costs for services other than counsel for indigent parties.


SB 650-FN - AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE

 

03/05/2020   0727s

2020 SESSION

20-2939

04/01

 

SENATE BILL 650-FN

 

AN ACT relative to the payment of costs for services other than counsel for indigent parties.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill provides for the apportionment of costs and expenses for legal counsel, investigative, expert, and other necessary services in abuse and neglect, guardianship, and termination of parental rights cases.

 

This bill is a request of the judicial branch.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

03/05/2020   0727s 20-2939

04/01

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT relative to the payment of costs for services other than counsel for indigent parties.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Termination of Parental Rights; Fees and Court Costs.  Amend RSA 170-C:13 to read as follows:

170-C:13  Fees and Court Costs.  

I.  The petitioner shall pay all entry fees and court costs including costs of giving notice, costs of advertising, and court-appointed guardian ad litem fees.  The court, however, may waive entry fees and court costs where payment would work a hardship on the petitioner.  Where the court waives payment by the petitioner, the state, through the court system, shall pay court costs.  The judicial council shall pay the cost of a CASA guardian ad litem appointed for the child or other guardian ad litem in cases arising from an underlying abuse and neglect proceeding when the state is the moving party or in cases where payment would work a hardship on the petitioner.  The cost of such appointment, including counsel and investigative, expert, or other services and expenses necessary to provide adequate representation, shall be paid from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to RSA 604-A.  

II.  The department of health and human services is exempted from paying any entry fees and court costs.

III.  When appointment of counsel is made by the court pursuant to RSA 170-C:10 for a parent determined to be financially unable to employ counsel, the court shall use a financial eligibility guideline established by the office of cost containment to determine if the party is indigent.  Upon determination that the party is indigent, the court may appoint counsel, subject to an order of repayment through the office of cost containment.  The judicial council shall bear the financial responsibility for the payment of costs for attorneys appointed pursuant to RSA 170-C:10 in accordance with the financial eligibility guideline established by the office of cost containment.  The cost of such appointment, including counsel and investigative, expert, or other services and expenses necessary to provide adequate representation, shall be paid from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to RSA 604-A.  Counsel shall petition the court for investigative, expert, or other services necessary to provide adequate representation.  If the court finds that such services are necessary and that the parent is financially unable to obtain them, the court shall authorize counsel to obtain the necessary services on behalf of the parent.  Services authorized under this section shall not include the payment of expenses that are the responsibility of any other agency pursuant to RSA 169-C or this chapter.

2  Guardians and Conservators; Right to Counsel.  Amend RSA 464-A:6, I to read as follows:

I.  The right to legal counsel for any person for whom a temporary guardian or guardianship of the person and estate, or person, or estate, is sought shall be absolute and unconditional.  If the proposed ward does not have his or her own counsel, the court shall appoint counsel for the proposed ward immediately upon the filing of a petition for guardianship of the person and estate, or the person, or estate.  The judicial council shall pay the cost of such appointment, including counsel and investigative, expert, or other services and expenses necessary to provide adequate representation, from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to RSA 604-A.  Prior to obtaining investigative, expert, and other services necessary to provide adequate representation, counsel shall apply to the court and, upon finding that such services are necessary and that the person is financially unable to obtain them, the court shall  authorize counsel to obtain the necessary services on behalf of the person for whom temporary guardian or guardianship of the person and estate, or person or estate, is sought.

3  Adequate Representation for Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases; Neglected or Abused Children.  Amend RSA 604-A:1-a to read as follows:

604-A:1-a  Neglected or Abused Children.  In cases involving a neglected or abused child, when a guardian ad litem is appointed for the child as provided in RSA 169-C:10, the cost of such appointment shall be paid from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to this chapter.  In cases involving a neglected or abused child, when an attorney is appointed to represent a parent determined to be indigent pursuant to RSA 169-C:10, II, at the preliminary hearing or a hearing pursuant to RSA 169-C:6-a, III, whichever occurs earlier, the cost of such appointment, including counsel and investigative, expert, or other services and expenses, shall be paid from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to this chapter.  Counsel shall petition the court for investigative, expert, or other services necessary to provide adequate representation.  If the court finds that such services are necessary and that the parent is financially unable to obtain them, the court shall authorize counsel to obtain the necessary services on behalf of the parent.  Services authorized under this section shall be in addition to payment for expenses provided under RSA 169-C or RSA 170-C.

4  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

20-2939

Amended 3/10/20

 

SB 650-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE (AMENDMENT #2020-0727s)

 

AN ACT relative to the payment of costs for services other than counsel for indigent parties.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Estimated Increase in Excess of $100,000

Estimated Increase in Excess of $100,000

Estimated Increase in Excess of $100,000

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

METHODOLOGY:

This Judicial Council indicates this bill would authorize the use of services other than counsel at state expense in certain civil proceedings.  This would apply to abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, and guardianship cases.  The services would be requested by the parent attorney or guardian and would require pre-approval from the court.  The Council assumes, based on the language of the bill, that guardians ad litem in abuse and neglect cases and attorneys in guardianship cases would not be required to obtain pre-approval from the court.

 

The Council reports in FY 2019, attorneys were appointed to 968 abuse and neglect cases and 323 termination cases.  Many parents involved in these cases suffer from complex mental health and/or substance use disorders and the services requested would constitute a significant expense.  The Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire (CASA) provides most of the guardian ad litem services in child protection cases.  CASA reported in FY 2019, 73% of the new cases had a known parental substance abuse component.  The Council expects such services would likely range from Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor Evaluations ($300) to psychological evaluations ($5,000+).  The Council assumes, cases involving allegations of physical harm may require medical experts.  In addition, litigation services, including depositions and witness fees would be utilized.  The Council has no information on which to estimate the potential cost of the bill, but expects the additional annual expenditures would easily exceed $100,000.

 

The Judicial Branch indicates any cost to the Branch would be for the appointment of counsel and the approval of costs within the cases.  The Branch does not anticipate these costs would exceed $10,000.

 

It is assumed any fiscal impact from this bill will not occur until FY 2021.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Branch and Judicial Council

 

Links

SB650 at GenCourtMobile
SB650 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 4, 2020 Senate Hearing
March 5, 2020 Senate Floor Vote
March 19, 2020 Senate Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

SB650 Revision: 8253 Date: March 10, 2020, 10:53 a.m.
SB650 Revision: 7980 Date: Feb. 18, 2020, 12:37 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and Referred to Judiciary; SJ 2
Feb. 4, 2020 Hearing: 02/04/2020, Room 100, SH, 09:30 am; SC 5
March 5, 2020 Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment # 2020-0727s, 03/05/2020; SC 9
March 5, 2020 Committee Amendment # 2020-0727s, AA, VV; 03/05/2020; SJ 5
March 5, 2020 Ought to Pass with Amendment 2020-0727s, MA, VV; Refer to Finance Rule 4-5; 03/05/2020; SJ 5
March 19, 2020 Committee Report: Ought to Pass SC 11