Legislature(2019 - 2020)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/15/2019 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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Audio Topic
01:33:40 PM Start
01:34:04 PM SB55
01:42:53 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 55(JUD) Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
         SB  55-TEMP. APPOINTMENTS TO COURT OF APPEALS                                                                      
1:34:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
SENATE BILL  NO. 55, "An Act  relating to judges of  the court of                                                               
appeals; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
1:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  moved to adopt the  proposed committee substitute                                                               
to SB 55, work order  31-LS0485\M, Bruce, 3/13/19, referred to as                                                               
Version M, as the working document of the committee.                                                                            
CHAIR HUGHES objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                            
1:34:46 PM.                                                                                                                   
BUDDY  WHITT,   Staff,  Senator  Shelley  Hughes,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  reviewed  the  changes in  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  to  SB 55,  Version  M.  He  said that  the  proposed                                                               
committee substitute  would change  the appointment of  an acting                                                               
court of appeals judge from three  years to two years. This would                                                               
differentiate  the temporary  appointment of  a court  of appeals                                                               
judge from the three permanent court of appeals judges, he said.                                                                
He reviewed the sectional analysis, which read as follows:                                                                      
     Section 3: Amends AS 22.07.070(c) to make the term of                                                                      
       service for the acting court of appeals two years                                                                        
     instead of three.                                                                                                          
     Section 6: Changes the effective date of the repeal of                                                                     
      AS 22.07.070(c) to July 1, 2021 to coincide with the                                                                      
     change to a two-year term.                                                                                                 
1:35:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES said  that she considered having an  acting court of                                                               
appeals  judge be  subject  to  the same  process  as a  judicial                                                               
appointee  to the  court of  appeals. However,  that process  can                                                               
take from eight  months to a year. Therefore,  she concluded that                                                               
it was best  to shorten the term. [The three  judges on the court                                                               
of appeals are  chosen by the governor from a  list of candidates                                                               
recommended by the Alaska Judicial Council.]                                                                                    
1:36:28 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MEADE,  General  Counsel, Administrative  Offices,  Alaska                                                               
Court  System, said  the court  system welcomes  the relief  that                                                               
this bill will give to the court of appeals.                                                                                    
1:36:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER   recalled  that  at  a   previous  hearing,  the                                                               
committee had  asked whether the  court was interested  in making                                                               
the acting  judge a  permanent position  rather than  a temporary                                                               
court  of appeals  appointment. He  asked whether  Ms. Meade  had                                                               
discussed this with the court                                                                                                   
MS.  MEADE answered  that it  is the  court's preference  to make                                                               
this position a temporary position  as reflected in the bill. The                                                               
court does  not feel the need  for a fourth permanent  judge. She                                                               
explained that appellate courts  operate most effectively with an                                                               
odd number  of judges.  The court  does not  think it  needs five                                                               
members, but  that the  fourth acting judge  will help  the court                                                               
process  its backlog  of cases.  At that  point, the  court would                                                               
like to  revert to three  permanent court of appeals  judges. She                                                               
related that  the court has two  new judges. One judge  was sworn                                                               
in yesterday, one has served since  2017, and the third judge has                                                               
served on  the court of appeals  since 2012. She said  the judges                                                               
believe they have developed a  strategy to further streamline the                                                               
process once they have caught up.                                                                                               
1:37:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES removed her objection.                                                                                             
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  remarked that  he has no  objection to  moving the                                                               
bill from committee.  He agreed that it is important  to have the                                                               
Alaska Judicial  Council (AJC) involved.  He said that  he worked                                                               
with Ms.  Meade on  this issue.  However, they  were not  able to                                                               
find a solution  prior to this meeting. He agreed  that the court                                                               
of  appeals  needs temporary  relief  to  help  it "get  the  pig                                                               
through the python" so it can get back to its regular business.                                                                 
1:38:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE joined the meeting.                                                                                            
1:39:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL said  that  the court  of appeals  is  a court  of                                                               
record  that sets  precedents.  It  is critical  as  SB 55  moves                                                               
forward to  find a  way to  ensure that  only the  most qualified                                                               
judges  serve  on  the  court  of appeals.  He  said  the  Alaska                                                               
Judicial Council (AJC) is the constitutional way to do so.                                                                      
He emphasized that  he would rather have a governor  with whom he                                                               
has  political  and  philosophical   differences  make  an  extra                                                               
appointment  than  to  skip  that  step. He  said  that  he  will                                                               
continue to look  for a way to [involve the  AJC] in the process.                                                               
However,  he reiterated  that he  would  like to  give the  court                                                               
system the  relief it needs to  process its backlog of  cases. In                                                               
closing, he  reiterated that he  will not object the  bill moving                                                               
from  committee,   but  he  will   continue  to  try  to   add  a                                                               
depoliticizing, screening step to the process.                                                                                  
1:39:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  said that  she shares the  very same  concerns. She                                                               
explained that she  vetted options, which is one  reason the term                                                               
for the  acting judge has been  reduced from three to  two years.                                                               
In  response   to  Senator  Micciche,  she   explained  that  the                                                               
committee adopted Version M of  SB 55. She explained that Version                                                               
M would reduce  the judicial appointment from three  years to two                                                               
years for the acting judge to serve on the court of appeals.                                                                    
1:40:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE   moved  to   report  the   proposed  committee                                                               
substitute For  SB 55, work  order, 31-LS0485\M,  Bruce, 3/13/19,                                                               
referred  to  as  Version  M,   from  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                   
There being  no objections, the  CSSB 55(JUD), was  reported from                                                               
the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                        
1:40:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  reviewed  upcoming  committee  announcements.  She                                                               
anticipated  that  the  committee  would  consider  a  number  of                                                               
amendments  to SB  35  and develop  a  committee substitute.  She                                                               
said, "We  want to get  it right."  As the policy  committee, the                                                               
committee wants  to do a thorough  job  before it  moves the bill                                                               
to the next committee of  referral, which is the [Senate] Finance                                                               
[Standing] Committee."                                                                                                          
1:41:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE thanked  Chair Hughes  for taking  the time  to                                                               
work on SB 35. He  acknowledged that drafting bills is difficult,                                                               
and these issues are very  important ones. He said he appreciated                                                               
her  diligence  to  be  certain  "we get  it  right"  before  the                                                               
committee moves the  bill. He said he was happy  to support Chair                                                               
Hughes in that process.                                                                                                         
1:42:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES remarked that some  criminal statutes were addressed                                                               
in months of  committee hearings in the last  few years. However,                                                               
the  statutes   pertaining  to  sexual   crimes  have   not  been                                                               
addressed. In  some ways this  process is  reform work and  it is                                                               
quite complicated.  She said she  thought it was the  right thing                                                               
to  slow the  process down.  She expressed  appreciation for  the                                                               
committee members' support.                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSSB55 Version M.pdf SJUD 3/15/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 55
CSSB55 Explanation of Changes from Version A to M.pdf SJUD 3/15/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 55