Archives for April 2014

Law Day Mostly A Local Affair

May 1 is, of course, Law Day. It was set aside to honor the idea that our nation embraces the rule of law, even in an era when reduced funding has some contending that access to civil courts has become a civil rights issue. If you want to check out the history or some of the cool activities, a good place to start is with one of the country’s senior courts management groups, the National Center for State Courts.

Pandora’s Box: Dems Should Pay Close Attention to Victims Facing Asbestos Perjury Claims

Sara Warner, publisher of the California Courts Monitor, has a national Huffington Post column outlining how a North Carolina bankruptcy case might uncover enough scandal to become a Democratic political liability. In particular, she says the legal system is thinking in terms of “claimants” instead of thinking in terms of “victims.” She even calls for a Senate investigation. See the story here.

Kansas Court-Lawmaker Rift Continues

The Kansas Supreme Court has taken the unusual step of issuing a formal state that it is “troubled” by state lawmakers tying a funding increase to a court reorganization. As with other states, the Kansas chief justice has become a lobbyist for increased courts funding, going so far as authoring a widely read newspaper opinion piece against the plan.

The new system, which some say violates the Kansas constitution, will let local judges choose their “chief district judges” rather than having that post chosen by the state Supreme Court. They move also shifts some budget control to the local judges.

Read the story from kansascity.com here.

Florida Group Includes Civil Issues In New Juvenile Legal Aid

A Florida group funding increased legal assistance for juveniles has extended that aid beyond law enforcement issues to help deal with family courts, citations and other civil matters, according to an Associated Press report. The move is significant because many legal aid efforts are more or less exclusive to criminal courts.

Organizers say the approach will prevent some juveniles from ever entering the foster care system and improve representation for those already in the system. They also note that help with citations will reduce the number of young people who enter the justice system.

See more on the story via Gainsville.com here.

Kansas Ties Decentralization To Court Funds

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (photo: Kansas Office of the Governor website)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (photo: Kansas Office of the Governor website)

Education funding got the big headlines as Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the state’s budget into law, but the spending plan also represents the ongoing tug-of-war over centralized court administration. WIBW News 13 TV reported that “… the Kansas Supreme Court blasted the latest funding bill for the state court system [which]… changes  the way local courts are run by allowing the district court judges to elect their chief judge rather than letting the Supreme Court make the pick for each district.”

“This legislation empowers local judges to run their courts to the best of their ability while ensuring that Kansas courts stay open,” said state Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover. Critics, on the other hand, said the new law “weakens the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay our employees and keep courts open. And the money it provides still may fall short of even doing that. Read the WIBW story here: http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/Brownback-Signs-Bill-Increasing-Court-Funding–Supreme-Court-Objects-255812051.html