House bill would rewrite Art.V

first_img March 15, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News House bill would rewrite Art.V Senior Editor A proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with all judicial nominating commissions, require appellate judges up for retention to get a two-thirds approval rate, and dismantle The Florida Bar has been proposed in a rewrite of Article V introduced in the Florida House. HJR 627, by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, would allow the governor to fill directly all appellate vacancies with the consent of the state Senate. It would also set a two-year minimum limit on writs of habeas corpus and give the legislature vastly increased powers over court procedural rules. And those are only some of the changes in the 36-page measure. Bar President Herman Russomanno said many of the changes in bill are “troubling” and some of the proposals would have the state revert to systems and practices which were purposefully changed decades ago to provide accountability and remove politics from the system. “Floridians expect fairness and impartiality in the court system and their expectations are justified and attainable,” Russomanno said. “But the efforts to stampede the judicial branch and the legal profession with unwarranted changes such as those proposed in HB 627 are completely contrary to what Floridians clearly want.” Bar President-elect Terry Russell said the bill ignores several past problems with the judiciary and court system that the current constitution fixes. “It’s regressive,” he said. Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, the Bar’s outside counsel, said the overall effect of the proposal would be to increase the influence of politics in the court system. “This resolution would set our state back 100 years,” Richard said. “It would remove all checks on the politicization of judicial selection, place incumbent judges at the whim of the legislature or any groups of persons dissatisfied with a particular decision, and significantly reduce the independence of the judiciary, a critical element in the maintenance of a just and democratic society,” Richard said. The Bar has also picked up indications that the House Committee on Judicial Oversight could consider Brummer’s bill early in the Regular Session, which opened March 6 as this News went to press. At deadline, no companion bill had been introduced in the Senate. As a constitutional amendment, it must get a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate before it can be submitted to voters next year. Russomanno also said in many respects the Bar was “stunned” by the bill, particularly in that it addresses many issues studied extensively by legislative directive in recent years by the 1995 Article V Task Force, the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission and the 2000-01 Supreme Court Workload Study Commission. HJR 627 makes changes throughout Article V. One provision appears aimed at Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ actions in last year’s disputed election that were challenged in court. A new subsection (b) in Section 1 provides that there must be some legal or equitable claim for a court to issue a quo warranto writ. It also limits cases when those writs could be used, which apparently would drastically limit citizens’ ability to challenge a public official’s action in court. The language specifically provides: “The power to issue a writ of quo warranto does not establish power to review any right, power or duty of a public official other than the right to hold the particular office claimed by such official, and the writ of quo warranto shall not be used for any purpose except to test a person’s authority to continue holding an office when challenged by competing claimant to such office.” The section would also allow the legislature by law to set a statute of limitation on the writs. Other sections on specific courts’ powers affect habeas corpus writs. The amendment adds language that judges may issue the writs “provided that such writs are subject to statutes of limitation of not shorter than two years from the final judgment or mandate on direct appeal in a criminal case.” Judicial Restraint Several other sections are aimed at restricting the power and activities of the courts. Section 1 would have language added that, “Subject to any additional limits in this constitution, the jurisdiction of such courts shall extend only to actual cases in law, equity, admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and to actual controversies arising under the constitution and the laws of the State of Florida and of the United States.” Richard noted that could be read to eliminate the court’s authority to issue declaratory judgments and also to exercise oversight of the practice of law. The legislature also would be given power in that section to designate that a district court of appeal could exercise statewide jurisdiction “respecting any subject matter granted. . . by general law.” Richard said this provision could be read that the legislature could assign a matter to a DCA to the exclusion of the Supreme Court. Some observers have suggested the legislature could use the section to create a statewide court of criminal appeals. Court procedural rules “may not be inconsistent with statutes in place at the time of adoption of such rules, shall be revised to conform to subsequently adopted statutes that regulate substantive rights, and may be repealed by general law. Rules adopted pursuant to this section shall neither abridge, enlarge, nor modify the substantive rights of any litigant, but additional rulemaking power may be expressly delegated to courts by general law.” Richard noted that language eliminates the distinction between substantive and procedural rules and allows the legislature to write court rules. He said there has not been any criticisms or problems with rules that would justify such a change. Dropped from the constitution would be a provision requiring a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to override a court rule. The court would be allowed to issue advisory opinions on the request of the attorney general or governor, but opinions issued at the request of the governor “shall not be binding upon any party not voluntarily participating in such proceeding.” The measure would also limit the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to items enumerated in the constitution, including judicial discipline. Section 9 of Article V would be rewritten. Currently, when the Supreme Court certifies the need for new judges or to reduce judges, the legislature can change the number, but it requires a two-thirds vote. The bill would simply allow the legislature to set the number of judges by law, including the number in each circuit and county court. The Supreme Court would be able to make recommendations on increasing or decreasing the number of judges and also on changing the district and circuits. The proposed revision did keep the number of Supreme Court justices at seven. Retention Upped Section 10 would be changed to require that Supreme Court justices and district court of appeal judges get a two-thirds “yes” vote in their merit retention referenda. That could have a potentially devastating impact on the First District Court of Appeal and substantial impacts on other appellate courts. While all three First DCA judges on last November’s ballots would have been retained, it would have been very close if they were retained with 68 to 69 percent of the vote. However, all six judges on the 1998 merit retention ballot and all four on the 1996 ballot would have lost, as they garnered 63 to 64 percent “yes” votes less than the 66.67 required in the proposed amendment. Results from 1994 were not immediately available, but in 1992, all six First DCA judges on the ballot would have lost, as well as all five on the ballot in the Fifth DCA and two in the Second DCA. In 1992, there was organized opposition to then Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett and she wound up with 60.9-percent approval a landslide by most standards, but not enough under the bill. In addition, the other three justices on the ballot Justice Major B. Harding and former Justices Ben F. Overton and Parker Lee McDonald would have fallen short of the two-thirds vote, by one to less than two percent. As Richard noted, “Judges, who among public officers should be the least sensitive to public opinion, would be made more subject to the sway of public sentiment than executive or legislative officers.” Trial judges would remain elected, but midterm vacancies, as well as all vacancies on the appellate courts, would be filled directly by the governor without using judicial nominating commissions. Those appointments would be subject to “the advice and consent of the Senate.. . . ” The Article V provisions setting up the JNCs and governing their actions would be stricken under Brummer’s measure. The bill provides that if the Senate is not in session when the appointment is made and does not call itself into session to consider a nomination within 30 days, then the nomination is deemed approved. If the Senate is in session and fails to confirm a nominee within 30 days, then the nomination is rejected, unless Senate rules allow for an exemption. If judges find their jurisdiction and powers limited, they could become more politically active. Brummer’s bill would constitutionally override judicial canons that prevent judges from becoming involved in partisan politics or expressing their views on issues likely to come before them on the bench. The bill specifically provides, “No judicial rule of conduct or other court rule may limit the political rights of candidates for election or appointment to judicial office, including, but not limited to, serving a political organization, endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office, making speeches, attending political functions, or making statements with respect to issues; however such limits consistent with other provisions of this constitution may be imposed by general law.” The amendment, while not mentioning it by name, would do away with or substantially reduce The Florida Bar by changing Section 15. That revised section would allow the legislature to assume at least some oversight of the profession. The section provides that the Supreme Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over admission and discipline for those practicing, according to a new phrase added to the section, “before the courts of this state.” Also added to the section is this provision: “The cost of such regulation and discipline shall be funded by appropriations, disciplinary penalties, and fees paid to the Supreme Court as authorized by general law. No attorney may be required to pay dues to any organization and no fees may be otherwise assessed by the court as a condition to admission to practice law before the courts of this state. The professional practice of law other than before the courts of this state may be regulated by general law.” “This provision would eliminate the Bar as an arm of the Supreme Court and make the court’s ability to regulate [the] practice [of law] entirely dependent upon the willingness of the legislature to fund the regulation,” Richard wrote. With the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Bar’s four lawyer appointments would be taken away and given to the legislature. Among other changes proposed in Brummer’s bill are: • An addition to Section 14 that, “Any prevailing party in any civil proceeding or any defendant convicted in any criminal proceeding may be assessed, as provided by general law, the full cost of all services utilized and expenses incurred in such proceeding as determined by the clerk of the circuit or county court, to the extent that such services or expenses are provided by appropriations, fees, or service charges.. . . Such assessments may be enforced as any money judgment or tax obligation.” • An addition to Section 3(b)(5) that when a case is certified to the Supreme Court as being of great public importance, “the district court’s jurisdiction shall be retained unless and until the Supreme Court issues an order accepting jurisdiction.” • The opt-in, opt-out merit selection plan for trial judges added to the constitution in 1998 by voters would be stricken. (That was a two-part process. The voter approval in 1998 set up a referendum in every circuit and county last November, on whether voters wanted to continue electing their trial judges or switch to a merit system. By a decisive margin in every jurisdiction, voters chose to continue with elections.) • A provision of Section 14 that says courts have no power to fix appropriations would be changed to read that courts “have no power to fix or order any modification of appropriations.” • The requirement that one Supreme Court justice come from the jurisdiction of each of the five district courts of appeal would be removed. • The section that allows retired judges over the age of 70 to sit in temporary assignments would be removed. • Various requirements to hold law-related offices, such as judgeships, or elected state attorneys or public defenders, would remain unchanged except that those office-holders would not be required to be Florida Bar members. Instead they would have to be “authorized to practice law in Florida.”center_img House bill would rewrite Art.Vlast_img read more


UK pensions regulator, Arcadia row over details of BHS sale

first_img“This evidence of Ms Titcomb has been widely reported in the press, but it is incorrect,” Goldman said.He went on to detail how TPR was informed of Arcadia’s desire to sell BHS, and noted that the regulator sought – and was granted – an “urgent” meeting a week before the sale was announced to clarify how the sale could impact the BHS schemes.“Specifically,” the letter adds, “in relation to the BHS pension schemes, [Arcadia chairman] Sir Philip [Green] expressed his strong wish to agree a sustainable solution, and there was a discussion as to the possibility of implementing a restructuring with the approval of TPR.”The chairman of the work and pensions select committee, Labour MP Frank Field, said the letter was an “important intervention”, and that the central message was “disturbing”.Responding to the letter, a TPR spokesperson said that, while it did conduct the meeting with Arcadia, it was not given “sufficient information” to gauge the impact of the sale on the pension fund.The regulator also noted that companies hoping to conduct a sale were able to apply for a clearance statement if there were concerns about the sale’s impacting a fund.However, it noted that Arcadia did not approach it for such a clearance statement.“Given our concerns regarding the BHS pension scheme and the circumstance relating to the sale, and in the absence of clearance, we opened an anti-avoidance investigation, which superseded our earlier valuation investigation,” the spokesperson added.TPR confirmed last month it was investigating the collapse of BHS. Arcadia Group, the former owner of UK retailer BHS, has criticised the Pensions Regulator (TPR) over evidence given to a parliamentary committee, arguing the regulator’s chief executive made inaccurate statements.In a letter to the work and pensions select committee and the business, innovation and skills committee, Arcadia company secretary Adam Goldman criticised Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of TPR.Titcomb was speaking to the joint parliamentary committee about the combined £571m (€734m) buyout deficit left in the two BHS defined benefit schemes following the sponsor’s collapse – a hearing that saw suggestions that the regulator lacked the “teeth” to enforce existing laws.Goldman criticised Titcomb for saying the regulator only learned of Arcadia’s decision to sell BHS to Retail Acquisition when deal was made public in March 2015.last_img read more


‘Significant’ virus spread could thwart NBA restart: Silver

first_img Promoted ContentThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read MoreBirds Enjoy Living In A Gallery Space Created For ThemEver Thought Of Sleeping Next To Celebs? This Guy Will Show YouCouples Who Celebrated Their Union In A Unique, Unforgettable Way8 Weird Facts About Coffee That Will Surprise You7 Worst Things To Do To Your Phone10 Risky Jobs Some Women Do9 Facts You Should Know Before Getting A Tattoo7 Ways To Understand Your Girlfriend Better10 Phones That Can Work For Weeks Without Recharging2020 Tattoo Trends: Here’s What You’ll See This YearTop 10 Iconic Personalities On TV Now Read Also: Maldini unsure over future at AC Milan “This should work,” he said. “But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols and we hope it works as we designed it.” FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated Tuesday that a “significant spread” of coronavirus could burst the league’s safety “bubble” and cause a second shutdown of the season. Silver said he fully expects some players who gather in Florida to resume the suspended season will test positive for coronavirus, especially as teams first arrive in Orlando from their home markets. But he said fresh outbreaks after players go through quarantine procedures could prove more damaging. “Certainly, if we had any sort of a significant spread at all within our campus, we would be shut down again,” Silver said at Fortune’s virtual Brainstorm Health conference. “It would be concerning if once (the players) sit through our quarantine period, and then were to test positive, we would know that, in essence, there’s a hole in our bubble.” The NBA halted play on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The season is set to resume on July 30 with 22 teams jockeying for a spot in the 16-team playoffs that start August 17. All games will be held at the ESPN Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where players will stay in a quarantine environment.Advertisement Loading… Coronavirus testing and contact tracing measures will be in place, which Silver hopes will make the campus safe for players and NBA personnel despite the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida. “We can analyze the virus itself and try to track whether, if there’s more than one case, if it’s in essence the same virus, the same genetic variation of the virus that has passed from one player to another,” Silver said.last_img read more