HB1274 (2024) Detail

Relative to judicial administration.


HB 1274-FN - AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE

 

1Feb2024... 0224h

05/15/2024   1851s

 

2024 SESSION

24-2063

09/08

 

HOUSE BILL 1274-FN

 

AN ACT relative to judicial administration.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Lynn, Rock. 17

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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AMENDED ANALYSIS

 

This bill:

 

I.  Amends the requirements for who can serve on the judicial council.

 

II.  Amends the requirements for when a person is arrested with or without a warrant.

 

III.  Authorizes the courts to appoint contract or other qualified attorneys in the first instance, provides for the repeal of this provision, and requires a report to be issued on the fiscal impact of this provision.

 

IV.  Raises the threshold amount to trigger the requirement of approval of the fiscal committee of the general court for the supreme court to transfer appropriated funds.

 

V.  Adds to the exemption from the definition of "part-time" for the New Hampshire retirement system the judicial branch's assistant director of safety and security.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

1Feb2024... 0224h

05/15/2024   1851s 24-2063

09/08

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Four

 

AN ACT relative to judicial administration.

 

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

 

1  Judicial Council.  Amend RSA 494:1 to read as follows:

494:1 Judicial Council.  There is hereby established a judicial council which shall consist of the following:

I. The [4] 5 members of the judicial branch administrative council, appointed pursuant to supreme court rules.

II. The attorney general or designee.

III. A clerk or administrator of the superior court, selected by the chief justice of the superior court.

IV. A clerk or administrator of the circuit court, selected by the administrative judge of the circuit court.

V. The president-elect of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

VI. The chairperson of the senate judiciary committee or a designee from such committee appointed by the chairperson.

VII. The chairperson of the house judiciary committee or a designee from such committee appointed by the chairperson.

VIII. Eight other members appointed by the governor and council, 3 of whom shall be lawyers of wide experience and at least 2 of whom are members of the New Hampshire Bar Association who have been admitted to practice for more than 5 years [members of the New Hampshire Bar Association of wide experience who have been admitted to practice in the state for more than 5 years], and 5 of whom shall be members of the public who are not lawyers.

IX. Five other members appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court, 3 of whom shall be lawyers of wide experience and at least 2 of whom are members of the New Hampshire Bar Association who have been admitted to practice for more than 5 years [members of the New Hampshire Bar Association of wide experience who have been admitted to practice in the state for more than 5 years], and 2 of whom shall be members of the public who are not lawyers.

2  Arrests in Criminal Cases; Place and Time of Detention.  Amend RSA 594:20-a to read as follows:

I.  When a person is arrested with or without a warrant he or she may be committed to a county correctional facility, to a police station or other place provided for the detention of offenders, or otherwise detained in custody.  The person shall be taken to appear before a circuit court[,] or a superior court [in the case of felony complaints and misdemeanors and violation level charges that are directly related to those felonies,] without unreasonable delay[,] to answer for the offense.  All persons shall appear no later than 24 hours after arrest, or no later than 36 hours after arrest if arrested between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and the person's attorney is unable to attend an arraignment on the same day, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted.

II.  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I, defendants detained under RSA 173-B shall have timely access to a bail hearing by telephonic means or otherwise as determined by the circuit court or the superior court [in the case of felony complaints and misdemeanors and violation level charges that are directly related to those felonies].

3  New Paragraph; Adequate Representation for Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases; Appointment of Counsel.  Amend RSA 604-A:2 by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:

II-a.  Notwithstanding paragraph II, the court may appoint a contract attorney or other qualified attorney in the first instance when it is in the interest of justice to do so.  The court shall inform the judicial council of each case in which it makes an appointment of counsel pursuant to this paragraph and the reason for doing so, and the judicial council shall maintain records of all cases in which appointment of council pursuant to this paragraph has been made.  Such records shall be maintained in such a manner as to be easily separated from appointments of counsel not made pursuant to this paragraph.

4  New Hampshire Retirement System; Definitions.  Amend RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV to read as follows:

XXXIV.  "Part-time" for purposes of employment of a retired member of the New Hampshire retirement system, but excepting per diem court security officers, [and] court bailiffs, and the assistant director for safety and security of the judicial branch, means employment by one or more participating employers of the retired member which shall not exceed 1,352 hours in a calendar year, except as provided in RSA 100-A:7-b.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, no retired member shall be employed on a part-time basis by any participating employer for a period of 28 days from the member's effective date of retirement.

5  Appropriations; Transfer of Appropriations, Judicial Branch.  Amend RSA 9:17-d to read as follows:

9:17-d  Transfer of Appropriations, Judicial Branch.  The supreme court may transfer funds for any specific purposes to funds for other purposes in the general appropriations for any accounting unit within the judicial branch, provided that any transfer of [$75,000] $100,000 or more shall require prior approval of the fiscal committee of the general court, and provided that no funds may be transferred in violation of the provisions of RSA 9:17-a or any other restriction provided by law.  The judicial branch shall certify such transfers to the commissioner of administrative services.  The certification shall state that the transfers are necessary to efficiently carry out the functions of the courts and that the legislative fiscal committee has approved the transfers.  The provisions of this section shall not supersede the provisions of RSA 99:4 and RSA 9:17-a.

6  Report Required.  By October 1, 2025, the executive director of the judicial council shall report to the house and senate finance committees on the cost and fiscal impact of the appointments authorized in RSA 604-A:2, II-a on the contract attorney and assigned counsel programs.

7  Repeal.  RSA 604-A:2, II-a, relative to the appointment of contract attorneys or other qualified attorneys, is repealed.

8  Effective Date.

I.  Section 7 of this act shall take effect January 1, 2026.

II.  The remainder of this act shall take effect upon its passage.

 

LBA

24-2063

Amended 5/20/24

 

HB 1274-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE (AMENDMENT #2024-1851s)

 

AN ACT relative to judicial administration.

 

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

 

 

Estimated State Impact - Increase / (Decrease)

 

FY 2024

FY 2025

FY 2026

FY 2027

Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

Revenue Fund(s)

None

 

Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source(s)

General Fund

 

Appropriations

$0

$0

$0

$0

Funding Source(s)

None

 

Does this bill provide sufficient funding to cover estimated expenditures? [X] No

Does this bill authorize new positions to implement this bill? [X] No

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill makes changes to various statutes as requested by the Judicial Council including:

  • Amends the requirements for who can serve on the Judicial Council.
  • Adds a new section concerning witness attendance and travel fees.
  • Amends the requirements for when a person is arrested with or without a warrant.
  • Authorizes the courts to appoint contract or other qualified attorneys in the first instance, provides for the repeal of this provision, and requires a report to be issued on the fiscal impact of this provision.
  • Raises the threshold amount to trigger the requirement of approval of the fiscal committee of the general court for the supreme court to transfer appropriated funds from $75,000 to $100,000.
  • Amends RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV to exempt the Assistant Director for Safety and Security position of the Judicial Branch from the limitation on hours worked by a retired member of the New Hampshire Retirement System.

 

The Judicial Council provided the following information concerning the fiscal impact of this bill.

  • Council Membership.  The change to lawyer members for appointment to the Council to allow lawyers of wide experience who are not necessarily members of the New Hampshire Bar Association will have no fiscal impact.
  • Witness attendance and travel fees.  Former RSA 516:16 set the witness fee at $12/half day and $.17 for each mile of travel required; however, this statute was repealed in 2019.  The Judicial Council only pays these fees when the defense subpoenas lay witnesses in indigent defense cases.  The Council has been paying the rate in the now repealed RSA 516:16 because there is no current statute that sets this rate.  Accordingly, the proposed legislation will merely codify the current practice and will have no fiscal impact.
  • Arrest Change.  RSA 594:20-a provides that a person who is arrested and detained must be taken to appear before a court without unreasonable delay.  The proposed change is consistent with the repeal of "felonies first" and strikes language that is no longer applicable.  It will have no fiscal impact.
  • Appointment of attorneys.  In some cases, a criminal defendant may be arrested on new charges, or an arrest may trigger imposition of a prior suspended sentence, or a probation or parole violation.  In those cases, current law (RSA 604-A:2) mandates that a new case against a defendant who is already represented by a contract attorney or assigned counsel be sent to the public defender in the first instance and follow the statutory order of appointment.  This bill would permit the court, when in the interests of justice, to appoint the defendant's current lawyer on the new case, without having to first appoint the public defender.  The Judicial Council estimates that these situations represent a small minority of indigent defense cases.  There may be an increased cost to contract attorney and assigned counsel expenditures; however, the Judicial Council believes this cost will be minimal and will be offset by efficiency in having the defendant represented by a single lawyer in all legal proceedings.  The reporting requirement in the proposed legislation directs the Judicial Council to track these cases and report on the fiscal impact of the change in procedure.      

 

The Judicial Branch indicates it would be required to make reports of contract attorney appointments to the Judicial Council, but does not have an estimate of the frequency of such reports.  The Branch does not currently track data on contract attorney appointments and would need to retrain existing staff to collect the information.  The Branch states the bill could result in additional costs in court time or for someone in the Branch to aggregate the information.

 

The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant indicates the proposed amendment to RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV will have a fiscal impact of less than $10,000.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Council and Judicial Branch

 

Amendments

Date Amendment
Jan. 24, 2024 2024-0224h
May 8, 2024 2024-1851s

Links


Date Body Type
Jan. 17, 2024 House Hearing
Jan. 22, 2024 House Exec Session
Jan. 22, 2024 House Floor Vote
March 20, 2024 Senate Hearing
May 16, 2024 Senate Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB1274 Revision: 42111 Date: May 20, 2024, 3 p.m.
HB1274 Revision: 41922 Date: May 8, 2024, 3:15 p.m.
HB1274 Revision: 40708 Date: Feb. 2, 2024, 12:13 p.m.
HB1274 Revision: 40670 Date: Jan. 24, 2024, 11:14 a.m.
HB1274 Revision: 39787 Date: Dec. 6, 2023, 12:35 p.m.

Docket


May 9, 2024: Ought to Pass with Amendment 2024-1851s, MA, VV; OT3rdg; 05/15/2024; SJ 12


May 9, 2024: Committee Amendment # 2024-1851s, AA, VV; 05/15/2024; SJ 12


May 9, 2024: Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment #2024-1851s, 05/16/2024; Vote 5-0; CC; SC 19


March 13, 2024: Hearing: 03/20/2024, Room 103, SH, 09:45 am; SC 11


Feb. 22, 2024: Introduced 02/21/2024 and Referred to Executive Departments and Administration; SJ 6


Feb. 1, 2024: Ought to Pass with Amendment 2024-0224h: MA VV 02/01/2024 HJ 3 P. 9


Feb. 1, 2024: Amendment # 2024-0224h: AA VV 02/01/2024 HJ 3 P. 9


Jan. 24, 2024: Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment # 2024-0224h 01/22/2024 (Vote 19-0; CC) HC 4 P. 8


Jan. 17, 2024: Executive Session: 01/22/2024 09:00 am LOB 206-208


Jan. 5, 2024: Public Hearing: 01/17/2024 02:30 pm LOB 206-208


Dec. 6, 2023: Introduced 01/03/2024 and referred to Judiciary HJ 1