Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Morning Update

Last night the Senate adopted the FY 2010 budget on its part. Although it appears on the House Notice Calendar today, it is likely that it will not be debated until Saturday. In any event, here is some language that affects the judicial branch and affects those of you that do any criminal work. I’m just copying this narrative language from H.441:

Sec. E.204 Judiciary (Sec. B.204, #2120000000)
(a) For compensation paid from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, the supreme
court is authorized to reduce by up to five percent salaries established by
statute that are paid by the judicial department appropriation and to reduce by
up to five percent the hourly rates of nonbargaining-unit employees earning in
excess of $15.00 per hour.
Sec. E.204.1 Judiciary (Sec. B.204, #2120000000)
4 V. S. A. § 25 is amended to read:
(a) The supreme court is authorized to declare up to 12 unpaid judicial
branch furlough days in a fiscal year and on those days may close courts in
the state. For purposes of implementing a furlough day, the supreme court is
authorized to reduce on a daily or hourly basis all salaries established by
32 V.S.A. §§ 1003(c), 1141, 1142, and 1181, and all other
salaries paid by the judicial branch. Furlough days declared under this section
shall have the same effect as holidays under 1 V.S.A. § 371 for the purpose of
counting time under the rules of court procedure and the Vermont Statutes
* * *
(a) The general assembly acknowledges that the commission on judicial
operation was established by the Vermont supreme court in response to Act
192 of 2008, in which the general assembly asked the court to convene a
commission to examine the efficient and effective delivery of judicial services
and to address the allocation of resources within the judiciary. The
commission is now engaged in this work and intends to report its
recommendations for resource reallocation and improvement of service delivery
to the general assembly prior to January 1, 2010. The general
assembly finds that it would be disruptive of the commission’s ongoing
processes to make substantial structural changes to the judiciary in fiscal year
2010, and that the interests of justice would be best served by deferring any
such changes until after the commission’s report is received and considered.
(b) The general assembly expects the work of the commission on judicial
operations to make recommendations which will both preserve the ability of
the judiciary to meet its constitutional responsibilities as a separate branch of
government and to find savings of $1,000,000 in the fiscal year 2011 budget.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the judiciary budget shall
not be subject to any rescissions during fiscal year 2010.
(a) The court administrator, in consultation with the executive director of
the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, the defender general, and the
commissioner of the department of corrections, shall develop procedures for
regional arraignments and for an incarcerated defendant’s appearance by video
or telephone as permitted under rules 5 and 43 of the Vermont rules of criminal
procedure and Vermont Supreme Court administrative order 38. The
procedures shall be designed to reduce prisoner transportation costs to the
greatest extent possible while preserving the defendant’s right to a meaningful
court appearance.

The compensation and Commission language is new. The court now will have the authority to do the 5% salary reduction, without requiring agreement on the part of employees. Also, the court has been restricted in its furlough days (court closing days) because it had to close all courts on the same day. This is loosened up a bit with the use of “may”.
The important language though is contained in the section dealing with the Commission on Judicial Operation. The legislature validates the work of the Commission in sub (a); sets out an expectation in sub (b); and, finally, insulates the judiciary from any rescissions in FY 2010. This is of course a good result for the court even as it put more pressure on the Commission itself. Finally, the last section sets in motion a process to begin regional arraignments in order to reduce transportation costs while preserving a defendant’s right to a meaningful court appearance.
For those of you that followed the progress of H. 11 and then S. 26, and are aware of the amendment about an assistant judge simultaneously holding the office of probate judge, that language is not in the bill as passed. Instead this provision replaced it:
Sec. 13. STUDY
The committee on judicial operation created by Sec. 5.101.1 of No. 192 of
the Acts of the 2007 Adj. Sess. (2008) shall, in addition to its other duties,
study the issue of allowing a single person to simultaneously hold the offices
of assistant judge and probate judge. The study shall include an analysis of
whether simultaneously holding both offices by a single person is
constitutional as well as an analysis of its impact on the administration of

No comments:

Post a Comment