Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

02/21/2011 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 133 INCREASING NUMBER OF SUPERIOR CT JUDGES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
*+ HB 56 INCLUDE ARSON IN CRIMES OF CONSPIRACY TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 02/18/11>
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 21, 2011                                                                                        
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Wes Keller                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Steve Thompson, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 56                                                                                                               
"An Act making arson in the first degree and arson in the second                                                                
degree serious felonies for purposes of application of the crime                                                                
of conspiracy."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 56 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 133                                                                                                              
"An Act increasing the number of superior court judges                                                                          
designated for the third judicial district; and providing for an                                                                
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 56                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: INCLUDE ARSON IN CRIMES OF CONSPIRACY                                                                              
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GATTO, GRUENBERG, LYNN                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/11       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/18/11       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/18/11       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
02/21/11       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 133                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: INCREASING NUMBER OF SUPERIOR CT JUDGES                                                                            
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
01/31/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/31/11       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/21/11       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
GRETCHEN STAFT, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 56 on behalf of Representative                                                              
Gruenberg, one of the bill's joint prime sponsors.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JEFF TUCKER, President                                                                                                          
Alaska Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA)                                                                                           
North Pole, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 56 and urged its                                                              
passage.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Legal Services Section                                                                                                          
Criminal Division                                                                                                               
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions during discussion of                                                              
HB 56.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney                                                                                          
Administrative Staff                                                                                                            
Office of the Administrative Director                                                                                           
Alaska Court System (ACS)                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 133 and responded to                                                                        
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
QUINLAN STEINER, Director                                                                                                       
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Public Defender Agency (PDA)                                                                                                    
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to a question during discussion                                                                
of HB 133.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUE STANCLIFF, Special Assistant                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded  to a question  during discussion                                                             
of HB 133.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:05:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CARL  GATTO called the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to order  at  1:05 p.m.    Representatives Gatto,  Lynn,                                                               
Keller, Pruitt, and Gruenberg were  present at the call to order.                                                               
Representative  Holmes arrived  as the  meeting was  in progress.                                                               
Representative Thompson was excused.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
         HB 56 - INCLUDE ARSON IN CRIMES OF CONSPIRACY                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:06:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  56, "An Act making arson in  the first degree and                                                               
arson  in the  second  degree serious  felonies  for purposes  of                                                               
application of the crime of conspiracy."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:07:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GRETCHEN  STAFT,  Staff,  Representative  Max  Gruenberg,  Alaska                                                               
State   Legislature,  explained   on  behalf   of  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, one  of the  bill's joint prime  sponsors, that  HB 56                                                               
would add  the crimes of arson  in the first degree  and arson in                                                               
the second  degree [to AS  11.31.120(h)(2) - the list  of serious                                                               
felony  offenses for  which a  person could  be charged  with the                                                               
crime  of   conspiracy].    It  was   brought  to  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg's attention last year that  these arson crimes were not                                                               
yet included in Alaska's conspiracy  statute, and this caused him                                                               
concern,  she  relayed,  because  currently two  or  more  people                                                               
conspiring to commit  arson could only be charged  with the crime                                                               
of  arson if  the arson  actually occurs.   House  Bill 56  would                                                               
address this problem and provide  further deterrence to the crime                                                               
of arson.   Under  the bill,  if two or  more people  conspire to                                                               
commit arson  and the  arson occurs, they  could be  charged with                                                               
both the crime  of arson and the crime of  conspiracy, and if the                                                               
arson  doesn't  actually occur,  they  could  at least  still  be                                                               
charged  with the  crime of  conspiracy.   The Department  of Law                                                               
(DOL), she  relayed, has indicated  that it considers  the change                                                               
proposed  by the  bill to  be appropriate  because the  crimes of                                                               
arson in  the first  degree and  arson in  the second  degree are                                                               
serious felonies.   The joint  prime sponsors have not  heard any                                                               
opposition to  the bill,  and it's  highly supported  by Alaska's                                                               
fire departments, the Alaska Fire  Chiefs Association (AFCA), the                                                               
Alaska Peace Officers Association (APOA), and other such groups.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO,  speaking as  one of HB  56's joint  prime sponsors,                                                               
mentioned  that back  in 2003,  he  and Representative  Gruenberg                                                               
sponsored  legislation adding  arson to  the list  of crimes  for                                                               
which the Violent Crimes Compensation  Board (VCCB) could provide                                                               
compensation.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:10:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFF TUCKER,  President, Alaska  Fire Chiefs  Association (AFCA),                                                               
relayed that the AFCA supports HB 56 and urges its passage.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 56.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  asked whether the bill  would increase the                                                               
penalties for arson crimes.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:12:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNE  CARPENETI,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Legal  Services                                                               
Section,  Criminal  Division,  Department  of  Law  (DOL),  after                                                               
concurring  with  Ms. Staft's  comments  pertaining  to the  DOL,                                                               
explained  that under  the bill,  the crime  of conspiracy  would                                                               
warrant a  separate, additional charge  that would not  be merged                                                               
with  the underlying  charge of  arson.   Although  the crime  of                                                               
conspiracy is  not often prosecuted  - perhaps because it  can be                                                               
difficult  to prove  - it's  helpful to  have as  an option,  she                                                               
concluded.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO, speaking  as a  former firefighter,  indicated that                                                               
investigators  are able  to determine  whether a  particular fire                                                               
was started under suspicious circumstances.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:14:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER moved  to report  HB 56  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objection, HB  56 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:14 p.m. to 1:16 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
        HB 133 - INCREASING NUMBER OF SUPERIOR CT JUDGES                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:16:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 133,  "An Act increasing  the number  of superior                                                               
court  judges designated  for the  third  judicial district;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:16:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative Attorney,  Administrative  Staff,                                                               
Office  of  the  Administrative  Director,  Alaska  Court  System                                                               
(ACS), explained  that HB 133  was introduced by the  House Rules                                                               
Standing Committee  at the request  of the Alaska  Supreme Court.                                                               
Specifically,  HB 133  would  add two  new  superior court  judge                                                               
positions  to Alaska's  Third Judicial  District,  and these  two                                                               
judges would serve  on the civil court in Anchorage.   One reason                                                               
for requesting these  new positions is that such  judges have the                                                               
largest caseloads  in the state,  currently 687 cases  per judge,                                                               
and this high caseload results  from a combination of an increase                                                               
in the  number of unrepresented  litigants in  domestic relations                                                               
cases coming  before the courts, and  internal procedural changes                                                               
wherein more  status hearings are  taking place in child  in need                                                               
of aid  (CINA) cases, and  now once a  CINA case is  contested, a                                                               
superior court judge handles the case from then on.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WOOLIVER, with  regard to  those  procedural changes,  added                                                               
that although  they require more  superior court  resources, they                                                               
have  proven to  be very  beneficial for  the families  involved,                                                               
particularly since the goal of  the CINA statutes is get families                                                               
healthy  and the  children  back in  the home.    With regard  to                                                               
domestic relations cases  wherein at least one of  the parties is                                                               
unrepresented,  he  added  that  such cases  -  which  constitute                                                               
approximately  two-thirds  of  all domestic  relations  cases  in                                                               
Anchorage -  create a lot more  work for the court  and take more                                                               
time to  resolve because unrepresented  litigants tend to  file a                                                               
lot  more motions,  often  neglect to  address  the legal  issues                                                               
before the court, and don't  always come prepared with sufficient                                                               
documentation.   With  the  addition of  the  two new  positions,                                                               
although there would  still be the same number  of superior court                                                               
civil cases in  Anchorage, it is hoped that those  cases could be                                                               
resolved more quickly; furthermore,  the ACS has been instituting                                                               
and researching other programs and  changes in procedure that may                                                               
help it address its backlog of civil cases.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:29:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  asked for  more information  about the  fiscal notes                                                               
accompanying HB 133.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER  relayed that the  ACS's fiscal note  [of $1,440,800                                                               
for the  first year and  $930,400 for subsequent  years] reflects                                                               
funding   for  the   proposed  two   new   judge  positions   and                                                               
accompanying  in-court clerk  position, law  clerk position,  and                                                               
administrative   assistant  position   for  each   judge;  office                                                               
equipment/supplies   and   computer   hardware,   software,   and                                                               
licensing  and  fees  for  those  positions;  travel  costs;  and                                                               
capital   expenditures   for   remodeling   the   courthouse   to                                                               
accommodate the  new positions.  Those  capital expenditures have                                                               
also been included in the  ACS's capital budget request, however,                                                               
and so would be  removed from the ACS's fiscal note  on HB 133 if                                                               
they are fully funded in the capital budget.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WOOLIVER then  ventured that  the Alaska  Judicial Council's                                                               
(AJC's) fiscal  note [of  $23,200 for the  first year  and $1,900                                                               
for subsequent years] reflects costs  associated with filling two                                                               
new judge positions  and amortized retention costs  for those two                                                               
positions, though  page 2 provides  a detailed breakdown  of [the                                                               
first  year's costs  if the  positions are  filled separately  as                                                               
well as  a detailed breakdown  of reduced costs if  the positions                                                               
are  filled  simultaneously].   With  regard  to the  [Office  of                                                               
Public  Advocacy's (OPA's)]  fiscal note,  he explained  that any                                                               
time new  judges are added to  the court system, there  are going                                                               
to  be  more hearings,  more  active  cases, more  courtrooms  to                                                               
cover, and therefore the costs  and staffing needs of the various                                                               
departments/agencies in the criminal justice  system are going to                                                               
increase as  well.  Both the  OPA and the Public  Defender Agency                                                               
(PDA) address CINA cases, he added.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:35:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
QUINLAN  STEINER,  Director,   Central  Office,  Public  Defender                                                               
Agency (PDA), Department of  Administration (DOA), indicated that                                                               
with the addition of two  new superior court judge positions, the                                                               
PDA would  need to  add an  attorney position  [and a  law office                                                               
assistant  position] to  address  the estimated  increase in  the                                                               
PDA's workload.   Currently,  the PDA's  civil division  has only                                                               
six  attorneys  available to  appear  before  ten superior  court                                                               
judges handling  CINA matters  in Anchorage,  and so  already has                                                               
problems getting attorneys in the courtrooms on a daily basis.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO relayed  that he's been informed  that the Department                                                               
of Corrections'  (DOC's) fiscal note [of  $111,400] is inaccurate                                                               
[in  that it  reflects  the  addition of  a  new adult  probation                                                               
officer position that would be addressing felony crimes].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER surmised that because  HB 133 itself doesn't specify                                                               
that the proposed  new superior court judges  would be addressing                                                               
only  civil cases,  the DOC's  fiscal note  was probably  crafted                                                               
under the assumption that the  proposed new superior court judges                                                               
would be addressing criminal cases.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO  observed  that  the  Office  of  the  Governor  has                                                               
submitted a zero  fiscal note, and that the  Department of Public                                                               
Safety's (DPS's) fiscal note [of  $135,400 for the first year and                                                               
$117,300 for  subsequent years]  reflects the  addition of  a new                                                               
position.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:39:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUE  STANCLIFF, Special  Assistant, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Public  Safety  (DPS),  clarified  that  the  new                                                               
position  would be  for  a  court service  officer  who would  be                                                               
responsible for  handling court  paperwork and  maintaining order                                                               
in  the courtroom;  this additional  position is  being requested                                                               
based on an assumption that there  would be a new courtroom built                                                               
to accommodate  the two new  judges.  She mentioned  that because                                                               
domestic  relations cases  can often  become  very difficult  and                                                               
emotional,  court service  officers are  often needed  to provide                                                               
assistance.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on  HB 133 but indicated that he                                                               
might reopen  it, and relayed that  HB 133 would be  held over in                                                               
order to address the DOC's fiscal note.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:42:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 1:42 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB56 Hearing Request 02-08-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Sponsor Statement 02-08-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Version M 01-18-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Relevant Statutes.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Fiscal Note-LAW-CRIM-02-11-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Fiscal Note-DPS-FLS-02-18-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Fiscal Note-DOC-OC-02-11-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Supporting Documents-Letter AFCA 02-15-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Supporting Documents-Letter APOA 02-14-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Supporting Documents-Letter Daniel Jager 02-17-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Supporting Documents-Letter Investigators 02-15-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB56 Supporting Documents-Letter Mark Hall 02-15-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/30/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 56
HB133 Hearing Request 02-15-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Sponsor Statement 02-15-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Version A 01-31-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-ACS-TC-02-01-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-DOA-OPA-02-19-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-DOC-OC-02-18-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-LAW-CIV-02-17-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-DOA-PDA-02-19-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-DPS-DET-02-18-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-OOG-DOE-02-18-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133
HB133 Fiscal Note-AK Judicial Council-02-21-11.pdf HJUD 2/21/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 133