Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/12/1993 01:00 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 152 JURISDICTION OF MAGISTRATES                                           
  Number 518                                                                   
  noted that the House Judiciary Committee had introduced                      
  HB 152 at the request of the supreme court.  He said the                     
  bill made some technical changes to the laws regarding                       
  magistrate jurisdiction.  He explained that magistrates                      
  presided over certain district court matters in areas of the                 
  state where the services of a full-time district court judge                 
  were not required.  He stated that magistrates were the                      
  highest-ranking judicial officials in approximately 40                       
  different district court locations in Alaska.                                
  MR. CHRISTENSEN said that in major metropolitan areas,                       
  magistrates handled routine matters to ease the workload of                  
  the district court judges.  He said that unlike other                        
  judicial officers, magistrates were not appointed by the                     
  governor; rather, they served at the pleasure of the                         
  presiding judge.                                                             
  MR. CHRISTENSEN mentioned that district court was the lowest                 
  level of court and employed two types of judges:                             
  magistrates and district court judges.  He said that the                     
  district court judges had jurisdiction over civil matters of                 
  up to $50,000 and over all misdemeanors.  Magistrates, he                    
  said, had civil jurisdiction for matters of up to $5,000 and                 
  had jurisdiction over certain types of criminal offenses.                    
  Number 550                                                                   
  MR. CHRISTENSEN said that HB 152 proposed to modify                          
  magistrate jurisdiction with respect to minor offenses.  He                  
  said that a minor offense was one which could not be                         
  punished by jail time, an excessive fine, or loss of a                       
  valuable license.  He noted that, currently, magistrates                     
  were authorized to hear certain minor offense cases, but not                 
  others.  He stated HB 152 would expand a magistrate's                        
  jurisdiction to include all minor offenses, regardless of                    
  where they were located in the statutes.  He commented that                  
  the change would result in some operating efficiency for the                 
  district court.                                                              
  MR. CHRISTENSEN stated that a second change proposed by                      
  HB 152 would modify magistrate jurisdiction regarding post-                  
  conviction relief.  He said this change would correct an                     
  oversight contained in a 1990 law.  There was a common-law                   
  right for an offender to petition the convicting court to                    
  reconsider the case, he said.  He noted that post-conviction                 
  relief was different from the right to an appeal.  He said                   
  that sometimes new facts came to light months after a case                   
  had been decided, past the date by which an appeal had to be                 
  MR. CHRISTENSEN said that until 1990, jurisdiction to hear                   
  post-conviction relief petitions had always rested with the                  
  superior court.  A change in the law made in 1990, however,                  
  provided that post-conviction relief petitions would be                      
  handled by the court that originally imposed the sentence.                   
  Through an oversight, he said, the 1990 law only applied to                  
  judges within the district court and not to magistrates as                   
  well.  He stated HB 152 provided that a magistrate could                     
  grant post-conviction relief in a case in which the                          
  magistrate had the original jurisdiction.                                    
  MR. CHRISTENSEN noted that the committee substitute for                      
  HB 152 contained two changes from the original bill.  On                     
  page 2, line 2, "or no contest" was added to clarify that a                  
  magistrate had the authority to impose a sentence, whether a                 
  defendant pleaded "guilty" or "no contest."                                  
  MR. CHRISTENSEN commented that the second change found in                    
  the committee substitute undid a change made by the House                    
  State Affairs Committee.  The change was located on page 2,                  
  line 5, and was technical in nature.  He said the change                     
  would cover some old statutes which held that certain                        
  misdemeanors were also "minor offenses."                                     
  Number 669                                                                   
  REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Christensen to clarify the second                    
  change in the committee substitute.                                          
  Number 671                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER explained the change on page 2, line 5, to                   
  Rep. Davidson.                                                               
  Number 676                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS asked Mr. Christensen if there had been any                    
  recent changes to state or federal law regarding situations                  
  in which a person was found innocent, but information                        
  revealing that person's guilt later came to light.                           
  Number 683                                                                   
  MR. CHRISTENSEN replied that both the U.S. Constitution and                  
  the Alaska Constitution had "double jeopardy" provisions,                    
  providing that once a person was acquitted after trial on a                  
  criminal offense, he or she could not be charged again for                   
  the same offense.                                                            
  Number 692                                                                   
  REP. JAMES made a motion to adopt the committee substitute.                  
  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                 
  Number 702                                                                   
  REP. NORDLUND made a motion to move CSHB 152(JUD) out of                     
  committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal                  
  note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                          
  CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the committee would take up                   
  HB 79 next.                                                                  

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