Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1997-02-10 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1997-02-10                     House Journal                      Page 0292
HB 122                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 122 by the House Rules Committee by request of                  
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
An Act relating to prisoner litigation, post-conviction relief, and           
sentence appeals and to execution on judgments against prisoners'              
accounts; amending Alaska Rule of Administrative Procedure                     
10(e),  Alaska Rule of Appellate Procedure 502(b), Alaska Rule                 
of Civil Procedure 26, and Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 35;               
and providing for an effective date.                                           
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Judiciary and       
Finance Committees.                                                            
The following fiscal notes apply:                                              
Zero fiscal notes (2), Dept. of Administration, 2/10/97                        
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Corrections, 2/10/97                                
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Law, 2/10/97                                        
The Governor's transmittal letter, dated February 10, 1997, appears            

1997-02-10                     House Journal                      Page 0293
HB 122                                                                       
Dear Speaker Phillips                                                          
I am transmitting this bill to further enhance the positive effects of a       
1995 law aimed at reducing frivolous litigation filed by state prisoners.      
The bill clarifies a prisoner must pay filing fees in all types of legal       
actions against the state, including discretionary appellate review.  It       
also ensures the court will consider all prisoner financial accounts in        
determining whether an exemption from the filing fee is warranted.             
This is an extension of the 1995 law (Chair. 79, SLA 1995) which               
requires a prisoner to pay the usual filing fees for bringing a legal          
action against the state, unless the court finds the prisoner qualifies for    
an exemption based on financial information.  This bill requires the           
prisoner to submit information about money in accounts outside the             
prison as well as in-prison accounts.                                          
The law enacted in 1995 provides that automatic disclosure provisions          
of Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 do not apply to litigation filed        
by prisoners.  But a corresponding exemption from a similar provision          
in a separate court rule (Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 26) was               
inadvertently not included in the earlier bill.  This bill repairs that        
The rationale for automatic disclosure--reducing the cost and duration         
of litigation by cooperative discovery--does not readily apply in most         
litigation brought by prisoners.  Prisoners are generally not willing or       
able to participate in discovery and, as a result, the state is obliged to     
furnish full information while prisoners furnish no information to the         
state.  This is expensive and unnecessary, especially in litigation that       
is often without merit.                                                        
The bill adds a provision to allow continuing liens on prisoner                
accounts at correctional facilities.  The state can execute a judgment         
for costs and attorneys fees against a prisoners account.  Currently,          
whether the state is successful in collecting the judgment depends on          
whether the prisoner has money in the account at the time.  Under a            
continuing lien, the state can recover the money whenever the                  
prisoners account has money available.  This will reduce costs of              
collection so valid judgments are more timely satisfied.                       

1997-02-10                     House Journal                      Page 0294
HB 122                                                                       
Finally, the bill limits the time in which the court may allow a person        
to file a late appeal or request for discretionary review of the               
conviction or sentence to no more than 60 days after the originally            
specified time.  Unreasonably late challenges to convictions and               
sentences undermine the administration of justice, resulting in litigation     
of stale claims with witnesses whose memories have faded.  Victims,            
witnesses and the public should be able to depend on the finality of           
judgments once a defendant has had a reasonable opportunity to                 
challenge a conviction and sentence.                                           
The 1995 law has already proven effective in reducing frivolous                
prisoner litigation.  This bill will strengthen that effort.                   
							Tony Knowles