PA 10-43—sHB 5539

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING JUDICIAL BRANCH POWERS AND PROCEDURES

SUMMARY: This act makes numerous changes in court operations and powers. It:

1. changes Supreme and Appellate Court procedures, including scheduling and rehearing cases;

2. requires a certification be attached to certain election complaints showing that a copy of the complaint was given to the State Elections Enforcement Commission;

3. authorizes the chief justice and chief court administrator to take certain actions when there is a disaster or emergency;

4. allows the (a) Social Services (DSS) and Children and Families (DCF) departments to include children, adolescents, and families served by the Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division (CSSD) in the Behavioral Health Partnership and (b) chief court administrator to appoint someone to represent CSSD as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the Behavioral Health Partnership Oversight Council;

5. makes family relations counselors, family counselor trainees, and family services supervisors employed by the Judicial Branch mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect;

6. changes the name of “housing specialists” in landlord tenant matters to “housing mediators” ( 14);

7. allows any licensed health care provider, instead of just licensed physicians, to send the jury administrator a letter stating that someone summoned for jury duty has a disability that prevents him or her from satisfactorily performing jury service;

8. makes a change to bond postings in civil actions;

9. requires a $10 fee payable to the Superior Court clerk for issuing a certificate that an attorney is in good standing ( 17);

10. waives the fee for certified copies of criminal records for employees of the U. S. Probation Office acting in the performance of their duties ( 18);

11. specifies when a probation progress report must be filed when someone is serving more than one probation sentence; allows probation officers to detain people with outstanding warrants, seize contraband, and act as ad hoc fugitive task force members; and broadens notification provisions when a probation officer believes a probationer violated probation;

12. eliminates the pilot zero-tolerance drug supervision program for probation violators or people sentenced to probation or released on bail ( 20, 22, 24-26, and 43);

13. directs the chief court administrator to develop policies and procedures for entering arrest warrants into the central computer system, expands the system to include other criminal process, and allows the Judicial Branch to make disclosable information available electronically to the public through the Internet according to the chief court administrator's guidelines;

14. allows CSSD to exclude from Internet posting certain information on outstanding warrants for probation violations;

15. conforms law to practice by deleting references to victim advocates as appointed by the court, since they are Judicial Branch employees ( 30-34, and 43);

16. allows the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund to receive and spend money (a) recovered from responsible parties or (b) reimbursed by applicants;

17. eliminates a specific option for the Office of Victim Services or a victim compensation commissioner to provide low-interest loans to certain victims;

18. makes minor changes to the process for making emergency awards to victims;

19. authorizes the court in certain hearings on temporary custody or a neglected, uncared for, or dependent child or youth to ask the mother under oath about the identity and address of anyone who might be the father and makes the mother's statement admissible in the proceeding;

20. extends to certain children accused in a delinquency proceeding, the court's authority to order testing for venereal diseases, AIDS, and HIV; and

21. eliminates a provision that someone presiding in an arbitration or civil proceeding has a deciding vote ( 43).

The act makes other minor and technical changes ( 7 and 23).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010, except (1) the Behavioral Health Partnership provisions and a technical change ( 23) are effective upon passage, (2) the provision allowing CSSD to exclude certain information on outstanding warrants from Internet posting and changing the quarterly report on warrants is effective July 1, 2010, and (3) a change regarding admissibility of statements made by a mother under oath is effective July 1, 2012 (an identical change takes effect October 1, 2010 and the July 1, 2012 change is a conforming change).

1-4 AND 43 — SUPREME AND APPELLATE COURT PROCEDURES

1 and 43 — Supreme Court Terms

The act eliminates requirements that the Connecticut Supreme Court's terms be held on the first Tuesday of each month except July, August, and September and that a term continues until the court disposes of the business that was ready when the term began. The act instead requires the Judicial Branch to post the specific dates of the court's terms on its website.

The act eliminates provisions that (1) judicial marshals can adjourn a Supreme Court term or session when there is no judge present on written order of the chief justice or the senior associate justice in the chief justice's absence or inability to act and (2) a judge or judges who are present can order adjournment for up to one month.

2 — Assigning Supreme and Appellate Court Cases for Hearing

The law requires the Supreme Court chief clerk to assign cases for hearing under the direction of the chief justice or an associate justice she designates. The act no longer requires this to (1) take place at the Supreme Court room in Hartford and (2) occur by the Thursday before a term begins with the day and hour set by court rule. Similarly, the act no longer requires the assignment of Appellate Court cases at a day and hour set by court rule.

Under prior law, counsel could make a personal appearance at the time set for assigning cases or communicate earlier with the clerk to present a stipulation or any reason why cases should not be assigned in the order they are on the docket. The act instead allows counsel to request a change in the order in writing as provided by Supreme or Appellate Court rules.

Under court rules, assignment of cases for oral argument is ordinarily made in the order they become ready for argument. A request for a variation must be made by letter to the appellate clerk (the chief clerk for the Supreme and Appellate Courts), who must receive it at least two working days before assignments are made (P. B. Rule 69-3).

3 — Supreme Court Panels

Prior law gave parties before the Supreme Court a right to be heard by a full court consisting of (1) five associate justices or the chief justice and four associate justices or (2) on order of the chief justice, six associate justices or the chief justice and five or six associate justices. The act renames this a “panel” rather than a “full court” and eliminates the second option. It eliminates a provision specifying that the chief justice, or the most senior associate justice acting in her place, can summon the chief court administrator, if she is also a Supreme Court associate judge, to constitute a full court subject to the administrator's discharge of her duties.

Under court rules, (1) before a case is assigned for oral argument, the chief justice or chief judge can order a case be heard en banc on the motion of a party or on the court's own motion; (2) after argument but before decision, the entire court can order a case be considered en banc with or without further oral argument or briefs and justices or judges who did not hear the argument must have tapes or transcripts of it available before participating; and (3) after a decision, the entire court can order that reargument be heard en banc on a party's or the court's motion (P. B. Rule 70-7).

4 and 43 — Cases Where the Opinion is Evenly Split

Under prior law, when a case was argued before an even number of judges and the court was evenly divided, the case was reargued before a full panel. The act instead provides that if the Supreme Court is evenly divided on a result, it must reconsider the case with an odd number of judges and, at its option, require oral argument. If the court does not require oral argument again, the act requires a judge who did not hear the earlier oral argument or a member of a panel who was not present for it to have an electronic recording or transcript of it before he or she participates in the decision.

The act eliminates a provision giving the chief justice or presiding judge of a court, when opinion is divided equally among the court's judges, including the chief justice or presiding judge, a casting (deciding) vote unless otherwise provided by law.

Under court rules, an evenly divided court must reconsider the case with or without oral argument with an odd number of justices or judges (P. B. Rule 70-6).

43 — Quorum

The act eliminates provisions that (1) three Supreme Court judges are a quorum; (2) if more than two are disqualified, disabled, or decline to act in a matter before the court, the remaining judges may call enough Superior Court judges for a quorum to hear and decide the matter; (3) if all Supreme Court judges are disqualified, disabled, or decline to hear a pending action, it can be heard by three Superior Court judges designated by the Supreme Court chief justice or presiding judge.

5-6 — ELECTIONS AND PRIMARY COMPLAINTS

By law, an elector or candidate alleging certain violations can file a complaint with a (1) Supreme Court judge regarding an election for U. S. president, Senate, or Congress or (2) Superior Court judge regarding any type of primary. The law requires the person to send a copy of the complaint by first-class mail or deliver a copy by hand to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. The act requires a certification that a copy was sent or delivered to the commission to be attached to the complaint sent to the judge.

8-9 — HANDLING DISASTERS

The act authorizes the Supreme Court chief justice and chief court administrator to take necessary action in the event of a major disaster; emergency; or civil preparedness, disaster, or public health emergency. They must ensure the continued and efficient operation of the state courts, the prompt disposition of cases, and the proper administration of judicial business. Permissible actions include:

1. establishing alternative locations to conduct judicial business if one or more courts cannot be used,

2. suspending non-essential judicial business, and

3. taking other appropriate action necessary to ensure that the courts can effectively handle essential business.

10-11 — BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP

The law requires DSS and DCF to implement a Behavioral Health Partnership, which is an integrated behavioral health service system for HUSKY Part A and B members and children enrolled in DCF's voluntary services program. The law allows the agencies to include other children, adolescents, and families served by DCF. The act allows the agencies to include children, adolescents, and families served by CSSD.

It also allows the chief court administrator to appoint someone to represent CSSD as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the Behavioral Health Partnership Oversight Council, which advises DCF and DSS on the partnership.

By law, the partnership's charge is to increase access to quality behavioral health services by (1) expanding individualized, family-centered, community-based services and reducing unnecessary institutional and residential service use; (2) maximizing federal revenue and capturing and reinvesting any derived from reducing residential, and increasing community-based, services; (3) improving administrative oversight and efficiency; and (4) monitoring individual outcomes and overall and provider performance.

12-13 — FAMILY RELATIONS COUNSELORS AS MANDATED REPORTERS

The act makes Judicial Branch family relations counselors and trainees and family services supervisors mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. By law, mandated reporters must notify DCF when they reasonably believe a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect. Other mandated reporters include licensed counselors, psychologists, and teachers.

The act requires family relations counselors and trainees and family services supervisors to disclose information which would otherwise be confidential to fulfill their duties as mandated reporters.

15 – DISABILITY EXEMPTION FROM JURY DUTY

The act allows any licensed health care provider, instead of just licensed physicians, to send the jury administrator a letter stating that someone summoned cannot satisfactorily perform jury service due to a disability.

The act does not define the term “licensed health care provider” but health care providers who must be licensed include physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, athletic trainers, physical or occupational therapists, alcohol and drug counselors, midwives, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists, opticians, respiratory care practitioners, pharmacists, psychologists, marital and family therapists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, veterinarians, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and emergency medical technicians.

16 — BOND FOR CIVIL ACTIONS

The act authorizes the court to order a bond for prosecution of a civil action before trial on its own or on the motion of the defendant, instead of when it finds a bond is insufficient or the plaintiff has not given a bond and is unable to pay. By law, a sufficient bond is determined by considering taxable costs the plaintiff may be responsible for, other than expert witness fees or charges. The act eliminates these provisions for appeals.

19 — PROBATION PROGRESS REPORTS

For sentences imposed starting October 1, 2008, the law requires a probation officer to submit a progress report to the sentencing court at least 60 days before the (1) two-year mark in the probation term of someone sentenced to more than two years of probation for a class C or D felony or an unclassified felony or (2) one-year mark in the probation term of someone sentenced to more than one year of probation for a class A or B misdemeanor. After receiving the report, the court must continue or terminate the person's probation.

The act provides that if a person is serving more than one period of probation at the same time, the requirement to submit the report is tied to the longer probation period and all the person's probation cases are presented to the court at the same time.

20 AND 29 — PROBATION OFFICER POWERS

The act expands the authority of probation officers to:

1. detain for a reasonable time, until a police officer arrives, someone who (a) has one or more unexecuted state or federal arrest warrants against him or her or (b) is subject to the probation officer's arrest powers, when the officer reasonably believes the probationer has violated a condition of probation;

2. seize contraband discovered in the course of official duties, so long as the officer promptly processes the contraband according to law; and

3. act as a member of a state or federal ad hoc fugitive task force seeking out and arresting people with unexecuted state or federal warrants.

Under the act, probation officers carrying out task force duties are acting as state employees and entitled to qualified immunity for negligent acts, so long as the acts are not wanton, reckless, or malicious.

The act also gives officers authority to notify police that someone has violated a condition of probation and the police can arrest the probationer. Previously, this authority only extended to sex offenders who failed to notify probation of an address change.

21 AND 28 — DATA BASE FOR WARRANTS AND CRIMINAL PROCESS

The law (1) allows courts to enter arrest warrants into a central computer system, (2) considers entry in the system evidence of the warrant's issuance, and (3) authorizes any person named on the warrant to be arrested and given a copy of the warrant.

The act directs the chief court administrator to develop policies and procedures for entering warrants into the system and expands the system to include other criminal process. It allows the Judicial Branch to make disclosable information from this system available to the public electronically through the Internet according to the chief court administrator's guidelines.

The law already allows this for disclosable information in its criminal and motor vehicle information systems.

27 — ARREST WARRANTS FOR PROBATION VIOLATORS

The law requires CSSD to post information on outstanding arrest warrants for probation violations on the Internet, including the person's name, address, and photo. The act excludes information from Internet posting if (1) there is reason to believe it would endanger the safety of the probationer or someone else or (2) the probationer is a youthful offender.

The law also requires CSSD to post quarterly reports, by court, of arrest warrants issued for violations of probation, including information on the probationer's name and address and the date of issuance. The act requires a report on all, rather than just outstanding, warrants but allows the report to exclude the information listed above.

35-37 — VICTIMS

35 — Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund

By law, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund provides compensation and restitution to crime victims. Under prior law, the fund could spend only what was appropriated to it. The act also allows the fund to receive and spend any (1) money recovered from responsible parties or (2) reimbursements received by the Office of Victim Services (OVS) from applicants (victims who receive compensation must reimburse the office for part of the award if they later recover damages from the responsible party).

36 — Low-Interest Loans Eliminated

By law, the OVS or a victim compensation commissioner can pay compensation to the spouse or dependent of a deceased victim if the family qualifies for compensation due to murder or manslaughter of the victim. The act eliminates the specific option of providing loans of up to $100,000 at up to 1% interest with repayment starting five years after awarding the loan for (1) essential living expenses directly resulting from the loss of income provided by the victim or (2) preexisting financial obligations that are not otherwise forgiven or excused.

37 — Emergency Awards to Victims

The law allows the OVS to make an emergency award to a claimant before taking action on the claim and pending a final determination. The act specifies that the decision to make an emergency award is based on reviewing all the information available to the office. It also specifies that payment is expedited rather than immediate.

By law, an emergency award can be up to $2,000, the amount is deducted from the final award, and any amount that is above the amount of the final award must be repaid.

38-40 — IDENTIFYING FATHERS

By law, a court must do a number of things at a preliminary hearing on a temporary custody order, order to appear, or the first hearing on a petition regarding a neglected, uncared for, or dependent child or youth. The court can take steps to determine the father's identity, including ordering genetic testing.

The act authorizes the court to ask the mother under oath about the identity and address of anyone who might be the father.

Generally, the law makes a parent's statements after the filing of a petition inadmissible in any proceeding on the petition against the person unless he or she was advised (1) about the right to counsel and to refuse to make statements and (2) that statements may be used as evidence. Under the act, statements by a mother, when asked by the court under oath about the identity of a person who might by the father are not barred in the proceeding for failure to advise her of these rights.

41-42 — VENEREAL DISEASE, AIDS, AND HIV TESTING

The law allows the court, before final disposition of a criminal case, to order the accused to submit to examination for (1) venereal disease if the case involves a sexual assault or prostitution crime and (2) AIDS or HIV if the case involves risk of injury to a minor or a sexual assault or prostitution crime that involved a sexual act. The act extends this authority to a child accused in a delinquency proceeding involving one of these crimes.

The law also requires the court to order AIDS or HIV testing at the victim's request when a person is convicted or a child is convicted as a delinquent of certain sexual assault crimes or risk of injury to a minor involving a sexual act. Under existing law, the test is performed by or at the direction of the Department of Correction in consultation with the Department of Public Health (DPH). For a child convicted as a delinquent, the act requires testing at the direction of CSSD or DCF, in consultation with DPH.

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