The House Ways and Means Committee heard SB 486, sponsored by Rep. Heaton, on adding judicial officers. As recommended by the Commission on Courts, this bill allows the judges of the Hamilton superior court to jointly appoint a third full-time magistrate and the judges of the Hendricks superior court to jointly appoint two full-time magistrates. This bill also adds a second judge to the Owen circuit court, and establishes a unified circuit court in Owen County with two judges as of January 1, 2015. The bill passed, 18-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1393, sponsored by Sen. Kenley, Sen. Hershman, and Sen. Broden, on the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC). The bill establishes an eleven member JTAC oversight committee drawn from all branches of government in addition to increasing the JTAC fee from $5 to $7. The bill was amended to stagger the terms for appointed members on the oversight committee. It would also specify that members may be reappointed, and would require that the oversight committee must meet at least once per year or at the call of the chair. The amendment also requires the committee to study the allocation of JTAC fees between state and local government, change bill language on independent providers, and require the oversight committee to develop and implement a standard protocol for sending and receiving information to the protective order registry by Dec. 31, 2013. The amendment adds language that the committee shall permit private sector vendors to send and receive court information on an equitable basis and at an equitable cost. The last aspect of the amendment would define “formal written commitment” language in the bill to mean that after a county has adopted a written ordinance and “entered into a commitment” it would then be considered to be operating under the state’s judicial automation system for purposes of fee allocation between JTAC and the county. Justice Massa, JTAC’s Mary DePrez, and Donna Edgar testified about JTAC and the present implementation of Odyssey and INcite programs. Justice Massa pointed out that the bill’s change from $5 to $7 fees pays not just for Odyssey, but also for INcite programs like the protective order registry and the e-ticket traffic ticket system. He said that the bulk of extra money from the fee increase will pay for data conversion in courts that want Odyssey, noting that there are at least 20 more counties that want it. Justice Massa testified that the Supreme Court is leaving the decision about case management system providers to be made locally. Testimony in favor of the bill’s oversight committee was received from Doxpop and CSI owners, the Association of Indiana Counties, and the Elkhart County Clerk. Judge Bill Hughes of Hamilton Superior 3 spoke in favor of the bill, pointing out the advantages for his county in converting to the Odyssey case management system. The bill passed as amended 9-0.[Permalink]
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1579, sponsored by Sen. Kruse and Sen. Wyss, on open container laws. This bill specifies that for purposes of open container laws, the exemption for a person who is in the passenger compartment of a vehicle used to transport passengers for compensation or the living quarters of a house coach or trailer does not apply to the operator of the vehicle. This bill also increases the number of hours of community restitution or service that a person convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated must perform. This bill was amended to attempt to conform with federal requirements to receive highway money. Build Indiana Council and Indiana Public Defender Council testified in favor of the bill. The Attorney General’s Office testified that it was still working with the federal government to answer questions about compliance with the federal requirements. The amended bill passed, 8-1.[Permalink]
This is the eleventh weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2013 legislative session. If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find the bill information at the link below:
This week Senate and House committees heard the following bills of interest to the judiciary:[Permalink]
The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1027, sponsored by Sen. Merritt and Sen. Lanane, providing civil immunity for services in emergency to a registered architect, land surveyor, or professional engineer who provides, without compensation, professional services related to a declared emergency. The bill was amended to include coverage for “assessing” damage. The amended bill passed, 10-0.
The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1159, sponsored by Sen. Pete Miller and Sen. Merritt, limiting liability for use of school facilities that provide community use for physical fitness activities. The bill was amended so that the Indiana Tort Claims Act would cover charter schools. The American Heart Association, Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and Indiana University Health testified in support of the bill. Indiana Trial Lawyers Association expressed concern over the amendment, and the Committee agreed that more work may need to be done for second reading. The amended bill passed, 9-0.
The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1372, sponsored by Sen. Zakas, on knowledge imputed to real estate brokers. The bill provides that information concerning defects in a property that is contained in transaction records maintained by a brokerage may not be imputed to a broker or affiliated licensee of the brokerage and bars a civil action against a broker or licensee for failure to disclose a defect if the action is based on imputed knowledge. The Committee amended the bill to specify that defects contained records of prior transactions may not be imputed to the real estate broker and to specify that the buyer may not invalidate a transaction due to his failure to sign a seller’s disclosure that has been received or acknowledged by the buyer. The bill was held for further amendment.
The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1519, sponsored by Sen. Walker, limiting liability for donations of agricultural products and livestock. This bill adds agricultural products and livestock to the items for which a person, who in good faith donates the item to a charitable entity, is not liable for civil damages unless the damages are the result of that person’s intentional, knowing, or reckless misconduct. It also provides that a charitable entity that in good faith receives a gift of a food item, an agricultural product, or livestock is not liable for civil damages arising from its use, condition, quality, or content unless the damages are the result of that entity’s intentional, knowing, or reckless misconduct. The bill was amended to include coverage for poultry and eggs. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and Indiana Farm Bureau testified in support of the bill. The amended bill passed, 10-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1376, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on various privacy issues. The bill creates a new B misdemeanor for placing a telephone call in a way that makes the recipient’s caller ID system indicate the call was placed with someone else’s phone number. It was heard last week but held for Attorney General amendments. An amendment was adopted providing that if the Attorney General brings a civil enforcement action against an “id spoofer” and proves by a preponderance that a violation was committed knowingly or intentionally, a penalty up to $ 10,000 may be imposed per violation and deposited in the AG’s consumer protection division telephone solicitation fund established by Ind. Code § 24-4.7-3-6. The bill passed as amended, 7-0.[Permalink]
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 53, sponsored by Rep. T. Brown, on child seduction. Sen. Boots testified that the bill provides that an individual engaged in a professional relationship with a child between the ages of 16 and 18 who uses this relationship to engage in a sexual relationship commits child seduction. A technical amendment correcting cross references within the bill was adopted by consent. A second amendment elevating the offense to a class C felony in certain circumstances and removing the language regarding the factors that a trier of fact may consider when determining whether or not the professional exerted undue influence over a child, was also adopted by consent. The amended bill passed, 10-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 361, sponsored by Rep. Price, clarifying and expanding the crime of intimidation to include threats involving public buildings and structures. Sen. Crider introduced the bill explaining that this proposal is a result of threats made against a hospital that were not prosecutable under current law. The Public Defender Council expressed some concerns with the bill that were addressed by the amendments introduced by Rep. McMillin. Two amendments were adopted by consent clarifying bill language and limiting the application of the proposed changes to this crime. The amended bill passed, 9-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1064, sponsored by Sen. Becker, adding ammonium chloride, potassium iodide, and calcium chloride to the list of chemical reagents and precursors that it is illegal to possess two or more of with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance. State Police representatives testified in favor of the bill, observing that it was based on field reports from law enforcement officers about the items they are finding methamphetamine manufacturers possessing. A number of Senators concluded that the bill would go too far by putting law-abiding citizens in jeopardy of investigation for possessing substances that have common legal uses. The bill failed, 3-5.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1392, sponsored by Sen. M. Young, Sen. Hume, and Sen. Arnold, on criminal background checks. Author Rep. Steuerwald noted that the bill had been approved by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee. A key provision in the bill repeals last year’s legislation mandating that clerks restrict access to the records for all infractions 5 years after the infraction judgment is satisfied and substitutes a procedure for persons against whom infraction judgments are entered to petition 5 years after satisfying the judgment to have access to their record limited. Testimony from commercial criminal background check providers in favor of the bill was presented. A technical amendment was adopted by consent. The bill passed as amended, 7-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1441, sponsored by Sen. Kruse, on valuable metal and scrap vehicles. This bill requires certificates of title or of authority for scrap sales of auto parts, including catalytic converters, and bills of sale for air conditioners or their replacements. Also, a person who knowingly or intentionally purchases or accepts a vehicle with intent to scrap or dismantle the vehicle without obtaining a certificate of authority for the vehicle; or a certificate of title for the vehicle; commits a Class B misdemeanor. Testimony was heard about increasing frequency of theft of catalytic converters for aluminum content and air conditioning coils for copper content. The bill will help make it more difficult for the thieves to sell these items to scrap dealers. Testimony from a number of scrap dealers in favor of the bill was heard. The bill was amended by consent to add language making it clear that the bill of sale for a replacement air conditioner would suffice to permit sale of the coil from the air conditioner being replaced. The bill passed, 6-1.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1482, sponsored by Sen. Steele, Sen. M. Young, and Sen. Rogers, on expungement. The Decatur County Prosecutor testified in opposition to the bill. A major amendment was offered by the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC). The amendment states that persons not convicted, including persons who complete either diversion or deferral programs, would have an expedited process under the amendment to have their records sealed, without any filing fee. The amendment would also prohibit any discrimination against unconvicted persons who obtain expungement relief, through an undefined “contempt” remedy. The amendment applies to misdemeanors and allows relief 5 years after conviction (less if the prosecutor agrees); the current version of the bill requires a 10-year wait. In contrast with the current version of the bill, the amendment would require the petitioner to swear that restitution has been paid, probation completed, and no additional convictions have occurred. The amendment would make expungement a disposition – the record is to be amended to show “expunged” but access to it would not be restricted. It also treats D felonies separately from misdemeanors, as opposed to the present bill that includes D felonies with the relief for misdemeanor convictions. The amendment requires an 8-year wait, as opposed to the existing bill’s 10 years. In contrast with the misdemeanor remedy, the court would not be required under the amendment to grant a D felony petitioner relief; the amendment would provide that court “may” grant relief. For all other offenses above D felonies, the prosecutors’ amendment has a more extensive list of types of convictions for which expungement relief would not be authorized, unless the prosecutor consents. The petition form for relief under the amendment would have to be verified. The prosecutor would have to give notice of the petition to victims. The amendment would require that all child support obligations be current, a condition IPAC noted the legislators may not want to include. The amendment would require the “clear and convincing” standard for serious offense relief. A prohibition of unlawful discrimination when felonies are expunged, like that for misdemeanor relief, is in the amendment. The conviction records under the amendment would not to be hidden from the public but would instead be open and clearly marked “expunged.” In contrast, IPAC said, the bill as passed by the House is not clear how the records that are expunged are to be handled, lets the offender have some of the records, and also appears to require sealing of published opinions. IPAC said that under the present version of the bill there would be very significant fiscal impacts for storage of records, impacts which he said would be avoided by the amendment. Finally, IPAC stated that the amendment would call for significant fees, of $300, for persons petitioning to expunge convictions, due to the significant expenses entailed by the remedy. These fees would go directly to the courts, prosecutors, and other entities directly involved in the expungements. IPAC noted the significant potential expungement caseloads for courts and prosecutors, pointing out that in 2011 175,000 misdemeanors and 50,000 D felonies were filed; expungements for convictions from filings of such volume would clearly be a major addition to the criminal justice system workload. Committee members discussed whether “serial” expungements could be filed, so that multiple offenders could eventually have their extensive records “expunged.” Indiana Public Defender Council testified in favor of the bill, but objected to the prosecutor’s veto for expungement of more serious offenses. Rep. McMillin said that he would be glad to confer with IPAC and others to see what changes to the bill they could all agree to. The Committee agreed to hold the bill over for a week to permit discussions of amendments.[Permalink]
The House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee heard SB 125, sponsored by Rep. Mahan, on child fatality reviews and the Commission on Children. Author Sen. Holdman asked the Committee to place the extensive revision of Indiana’s child fatality reviews from SB 572 into SB 125. This would mirror HB 1123 that also combined the same legislation in the House. The Committee agreed by consent to the combination. In addition, the Committee agreed by consent to have (1) the Director of Youth Services of DOC serve on the Commission of Children rather than the Commissioner of DOC, (2) Legislative Services Agency serve as the staff agency for the DCS Oversight subcommittee rather than the Indiana Judicial Center, (3) agency heads rather than designees sit on the full Commission on Improving the Status of Children, instead of allowing designees in another version of the bill, and (4) remove the provider from the full commission. The bill continues to have the Judicial Center staff the Commission on Improving the Status of Children and to have a provider of services to DCS on the DCS Oversight Subcommittee. The chief medical officer of the State Department of Health expressed concerns about HIPAA violations, as well as the impact of revealing a child’s death on the family. The Committee amended the bill to make disclosure permissive. The amended bill passed, 11-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 142, sponsored by Rep. McMillin pertaining to the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases. Author Sen. Mrvan testified that this is a victims’ rights bill. The bill increases the statute of limitations in a civil action based on child sexual abuse to the later of: (1) seven years after the cause of action accrues; or (2) four years after the person ceases to be a dependent of the person alleged to have performed the sexual abuse. The bill also increases the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of certain sex offenses involving children from five years to the later of: (1) ten years after the commission of the offense; or (2) four years after the person ceases to be a dependent of the person alleged to have committed the offense. Representatives from the Indiana Catholic Conference and the Office of the Attorney General testified in support of the bill. The Committee discussed the need to define when a child sexual abuse cause of action accrues for the purposes of calculating the statute of limitations at length without further resolution. The bill passed, 10-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1108, sponsored by Sen. M. Young, Sen. Steele and Sen. Taylor, providing sentencing alternatives for youthful offenders. The bill provides an opportunity for juveniles sentenced as adults for crimes to be placed in juvenile facilities. The bill has no effect on waiver procedures. It confers authority on the criminal sentencing court to order an offender under age 18 to be placed into the custody of the Department of Correction to be placed in a juvenile facility of the Division of Youth Services, if the department agrees to the placement; and to provide that the successful completion of the placement of the offender in the juvenile facility is a condition of the suspended criminal sentence. The bill also provides that when an offender becomes 18 years of age, the sentencing court must hold a review hearing concerning the offender before the offender becomes 19 years of age. The sentencing court, after the review hearing, may (1) continue the offender’s placement in a juvenile facility until the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have been met, if the sentencing court finds that the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have not been met; (2) discharge the offender if the sentencing court finds that the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have been met; (3) order execution of all or part of the offender’s suspended criminal sentence in an adult facility of the department of correction; or (4) place the offender in home detention, in a community corrections program, on probation, or in any other appropriate alternative sentencing program. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council offered an amendment applicable to the “top six direct file” offenses – murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, A felony rape, A felony deviate conduct, and A felony armed robbery. The amendment would prohibit a court from vacating or modifying a youthful offender’s sentence for one of these six offenses after the age 18 review hearing unless the prosecutor consents to the modification. Judge Christopher Burnham testified in favor of the bill on behalf of the Indiana Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Burnham acknowledged the amendment does remove judicial discretion at this review/modification stage, but also noted that it was more important to get this bill passed for the majority of juveniles that will be affected by the bill. The bill passed as amended, 7-0.[Permalink]
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 103, sponsored by Rep. Koch, on the Judicial Nominating Commission. The bill requires the non-attorney members of the Judicial Nominating Commission appointed by the Governor be from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. An attorney member of the Judicial Nominating Commission provided the Committee with information regarding the work of the Commission in selecting applicants to submit to the Governor for appellate court vacancies and reviewing complaints involving judicial ethics violations, but did not take a position on the bill. The bill passed, 8-3.
The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee heard SB 527, sponsored by Rep. Burton, regarding judges’ pensions. This bill urges the Legislative Council to assign to the Pension Management Oversight Commission the task of studying the retirement, disability, and death benefits currently provided to judges and full-time magistrates. The bill passed, 11-0.
The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1061, sponsored by Sen. Becker, on magistrates. This bill authorizes the judges of the Marion Superior Court to appoint 12 full-time magistrates after December 31, 2013, and authorizes the judges of the Warrick Circuit and Superior courts to jointly appoint a magistrate. The bill passed, 12-0.[Permalink]
This is the tenth weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2013 legislative session. If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find the bill information at the link below:
This week Senate and House committees heard the following bills of interest to the judiciary:[Permalink]
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 382, the creating the Senior Consumer Protection Act. Author Sen. Lanane presented the bill and explained that the bill was requested by the Attorney General’s office to address issues that do not fit into the protection order statute or consumer fraud statutes. The statute would allow a senior to bring an action against a person for financial exploitation and would allow the attorney general to bring an action to enjoin an alleged commission of financial exploitation of a senior consumer. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office, the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Indiana Grocery and Convenience Association, and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce testified in support of the bill. The Committee amended the bill by consent and held the bill for a vote at the next meeting.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1376, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on various privacy issues. Rep. Koch explained that the bill creates a new B misdemeanor for placing a telephone call in a way that makes the recipient’s caller ID system indicate the call was placed with someone else’s phone number. He said that “caller ID spoofing” is frequently used to defraud or trick a call recipient into believing the call is from a friend or reliable institution. The bill also provides for a civil cause of action by a spoofed individual to recover “actual damages,” which Rep. Koch indicated would include attorney fees. The bill was favorably received, but held for an amendments drafted by the Attorney General’s office addressing federal preemption and other issues.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1394, sponsored by Sen. Head and Sen. Steele, regarding various business law matters. This bill makes changes to required Secretary of State business entity filings, limited liability company law as well as makes technical corrections to various business entity matters. An individual representing the Indiana Bar Association and the Business Law Commission explained each provision of the bill. The bill passed, 8-0.[Permalink]
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 496, sponsored by Rep. McMillin, on the control of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. The bill as passed by the Senate would limit the amount an individual may purchase without a prescription to 61 grams a year, approximately an eight-month supply, and increase penalties for possession of more than 10 grams under certain circumstances. Testimony was heard from a number of mayors and police officials about the significant adverse impact on their communities of methamphetamine manufacturing. After this testimony, an amendment to give municipalities authority to require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine was defeated. Another amendment, to remove the criminal penalty changes passed by the Senate for B felony and A felony possession of more than 10 grams under specified circumstances, was adopted by consent. The bill passed as amended, 12-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 509, sponsored by Rep. McMillin, expanding the human trafficking offense to include trafficking of persons 16 and 17 years of age. A number of witnesses testified in favor of the legislation, and it was noted that the change in the bill would make Indiana’s law consistent with the trafficking offenses of other states and of the federal government. The bill passed, 12-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 536, sponsored by Rep. M. Smith, on synthetic drugs. The bill would provide for revocation of a retail license for selling or offering to sell either a synthetic drug or a lookalike synthetic drug. The bill also would continue the authorization for the state Pharmacy Board to declare substances to be synthetic, authorize the Attorney General to bring actions to obtain injunctions of the sale of synthetic substances or synthetic look-alikes, and add dealing in synthetic drugs or “synthetic drug lookalike substances” to both the list of offenses permitting forfeitures of vehicles and other property and to the Indiana RICO offense. It also would create a new A infraction/D or C felony of manufacturing or dealing a synthetic drug or “synthetic drug lookalike substance.” The bill passed, 11-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1053, sponsored by Sen. Steele, Sen. M. Young, and Sen. Arnold, on sex offenses and sex offenders. The Committee previously amended the bill to make its language on rape and deviate conduct parallel the terminology used in HB 1006. The Committee rejected an amendment to remove the bill’s requirement that kidnapping and confinement require registration only if a court finds the offense was committed with a sexual purpose. The Committee also rejected an amendment to change the description of the “material” change in appearance the bill presently requires to trigger a registrant’s obligation to have a new registry photo taken. A third amendment, to increase the maximum amount a court may order as a sexual assault victim fee used to support rape crisis centers, was agreed to be considered on second reading if it was found not to have a fiscal impact requiring appropriations consideration. A technical amendment was adopted. The amended bill passed, 9-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1093, sponsored by Sen. Landske and Sen. Arnold, on killing a law enforcement animal. Author Rep. VanDenburgh presented an amendment to strike authorization for the court to order a convicted defendant to pay “replacement costs” and substitute “cost to replace, which may include cost of training.” The amendment also authorizes the law enforcement agency whose animal is killed or permanently disabled to claim assistance from the violent crimes victims compensation fund. The bill passed as amended, 6-0.
The Senate Public Policy Committee heard HB 1225, sponsored by Sen. Glick, prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and making it a Class C infraction for an individual less than 18 years of age to purchase, accept for personal use, or possess an electronic cigarette. A major cigarette manufacturer and the American Lung Association testified in favor of the bill. The bill passed, 8-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1382, sponsored by Sen. Bray, placing certain substances on the controlled substances schedules. The bill passed, 7-0.[Permalink]