Summary: S.1569 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (10/03/1992)

Federal Courts Administration Act of 1992 - Title I: Implementation of Federal Courts Study Committee Recommendations - Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the Supreme Court to prescribe rules for appeal of interlocutory decisions to the courts of appeals.

Amends: (1) the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 to require appeals from orders or judgments entered by a U.S. district court in cases arising under such Act to be brought in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit), subject to specified limitations; and (2) the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 to transfer all cases of the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals to the Federal Circuit.

Includes within the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit specified appeals under: (1) the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970; (2) the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973; (3) the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978; and (4) the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

Abolishes the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals and transfers any pending cases to the Federal Circuit.

Amends the Federal criminal code to authorize a magistrate judge to: (1) revoke, modify, or reinstate (currently, revoke or reinstate) the probation of a defendant that such judge has sentenced; and (2) modify, revoke, or terminate supervised release of any person sentenced to a term of supervised release by a magistrate judge.

Permits a district judge to designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings to modify, revoke, or terminate supervised release, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to the judge proposed findings of fact and recommendations for such modification, revocation, or termination by the judge (including, in the case of revocation, a recommended sentence). Directs the magistrate judge to file his or her proposed findings and recommendations.

Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the Chief Justice of the United States, in the public interest, to designate and assign temporarily any circuit judge to act as circuit judge in another circuit upon request by the chief judge or circuit justice of such circuit. (Current law makes no mention of the public interest and authorizes such action upon presentation of a certificate of necessity by the chief judge or circuit justice of the circuit where the need arises.)

Title II: Judicial Survivors' Annuities Improvements - Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize judicial officials of the United States (officials) to elect to contribute 2.2 percent of their salary and 3.5 percent of their retirement salary (under current law, five percent of their salary) to the Judicial Survivors' Annuities Fund.

Requires an official who is not entitled to receive an immediate retirement salary upon leaving office but who is eligible to receive a deferred retirement salary at a later date to file, within 90 days before leaving office, a written notification of intent to remain within the purview of provisions with respect to the Fund (which shall constitute consent to contribute the 3.5 percent of deferred retirement salary) or be deemed to have revoked the election to participate under such provisions.

Provides for the refund of deposits into the Fund for officials who leave office and are ineligible to receive a retirement salary, or who leave office and are entitled to a deferred retirement salary but fail to make an election.

Counts as creditable service those years during which an official had deductions withheld from his or her retirement salary.

Revises the formula with respect to the computation of the annuity to take into account the number of years during which the official had deductions withheld from his or her retirement salary.

Authorizes an official, subject to the terms of a specified decree, court order, or agreement, who ceases to be married after making the election to revoke such election in writing by notifying the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (Administrative Office). Requires such official to also notify any spouse or former spouse of the application for revocation in accordance with such requirements as the Director shall prescribe. Authorizes the Director to provide for waiver of the notification requirement with respect to a spouse or former spouse if such official established to the Director's satisfaction that the whereabouts of such person cannot be determined.

Directs the Comptroller General of the United States, at the end of each three-fiscal year period, to determine whether the contributions by officials during such period accounted for 50 percent of the costs of the Fund and if not, what adjustments in the contribution rates should be made to achieve that 50 percent figure. Sets forth reporting requirements.

Provides a credit for prior contributions made to the Fund by officials at the higher rate.

Permits any official who elects to participate to make a redeposit to the credit of the Fund in installments, in such amounts and under such conditions as may be determined by the Director. Specifies that if an official elects to make a redeposit in installments: (1) the Director shall require that the first installment payment made shall be in an amount no smaller than the last 18 months of salary deductions or deposits previously returned to such official in a lump-sum payment; and (2) the election to participate shall be effective upon payment of the first such installment.

Directs the Comptroller General to: (1) conduct an audit of the judicial survivors annuities program for the three-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act; and (2) report to the Congress on the results of such audit, comparing such program to other survivors annuities programs within the Federal Government.

Title III: Judicial Financial Administration - Amends the Federal judicial code to provide for the award of filing fees in actions brought by the United States, in which the United States prevails (regardless of whether the Government paid the fee upon commencing the action).

Revises provisions with respect to the disposition of filing fees. Provides that: (1) of the amounts paid to the clerk of court as a fee or a judgment for costs, $60 shall be deposited into a special fund of the Treasury to offset funds appropriated for the operation and maintenance of U.S. courts; and (2) if the court authorizes a fee or judgment for costs of less than $120, the entire fee, up to $60, shall be deposited into such fund.

Title IV: Jury Matters - Permits prospective jurors in Massachusetts to be selected from the resident list provided for under Massachusetts law, rather than from voter lists.

Permits reimbursement of grand jurors' actual reasonable costs of air travel to district court pursuant to a summons, under guidelines set by the Judicial Conference, when travel by other means is not feasible and when certified by the chief judge of the district court in which the grand juror serves.

Provides permanent authorization for optional use of a one-step summoning and qualification procedure for jury selection. (Current law provides for experimental use of such procedure.)

Title V: Miscellaneous - Amends: (1) the Federal judicial code to permit courts of appeals to pretermit any regular session of court at any place for insufficient business or other good cause without the consent of the Judicial Conference, and to transfer the reporting requirement for fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act from the Director to the Attorney General; (2) the Financial Institutions Regulatory and Interest Rate Control Act of 1978 to eliminate a duplicative reporting requirement; and (3) the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990 to allow the Federal Judicial Center an additional nine months to submit to the Congress and the Judicial Conference the report on its study of intercircuit conflicts and structural alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals.

Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the Director to provide for the sale or disposal of recyclable scrap materials held by any entity within the judicial branch, subject to specified requirements.

Specifies that a civil action wherein jurisdiction is founded only on diversity of citizenship may be brought only in specified judicial districts, including one in which the defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced (as under current law) if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

Amends the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 to require the Director to transmit to the U.S. district courts a summary of each (currently, each) report on the state of each such court's civil and criminal dockets.

Provides for the recovery of costs and fees in the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals under the Equal Access to Justice Act, subject to specified limitations.

Title VI: Judiciary Personnel Administration, Benefits, and Protections - Amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act) to exempt the Judicial Officers' Retirement Fund, the Court of Federal Claims Judges' Retirement Fund, and payments to the Judiciary Trust Funds from reductions under such Act.

Authorizes the Federal Judicial Center to: (1) cooperate with and assist Federal agencies and other appropriate organizations in providing information and advice to further improvement in the administration of justice in the courts of foreign countries and to acquire information about judicial administration in foreign countries; and (2) fix compensation of secretarial and clerical personnel without regard to General Schedule pay rates.

Title VII: Criminal Administrative Matters - Directs probation and pretrial services officers: (1) when directed by the court and to the degree required by the regimen of care or treatment ordered by the court as a condition of release, to keep informed as to the conduct and provide supervision of persons conditionally released; and (2) to report any violation of such a condition to the court and Attorney General or his designee.

Affords Criminal Justice Act attorneys and experts, and community defender organizations, travel and lodging at Government rates.

Title VIII: State Justice Institute Reauthorization - Amends the State Justice Institute Act of 1984 to authorize appropriations for the State Justice Institute for FY 1993 through 1996.

Authorizes the Institute, upon application by an appropriate State or local (currently, Federal, State, or local) agency or institution and if the arrangement to be made by such agency or institution will provide services which could not be provided adequately through nongovernmental arrangements, to award a grant or enter into a cooperative agreement or contract with a unit of State or local (currently, Federal, State, or local) government other than a court. (Current law also requires the Institute to give priority to specified grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts.)

Grants the Institute the authority to enter into contracts with Federal agencies to carry out the purposes of the Act.

Title IX: Court of Federal Claims - Court of Federal Claims Technical and Procedural Improvements Act of 1992 - Amends the Federal judicial code to change the name of the U.S. Claims Court to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court).

Extends to Claims Court judges the same treatment afforded to other Federal trial judges with respect to earned military retirement pay.

Makes technical and conforming amendments regarding the recall of a senior Claims Court judge.

Authorizes: (1) Claims Court judges to hire the same number of law clerks as U.S. district court judges; (2) the Claims Court to hold court throughout the United States, including its territories and possessions (currently, court may only be held in the District of Columbia (DC) and in four locations outside DC); (3) the chief judge of the Claims Court to issue an order authorizing a judge of such court to conduct proceedings in a foreign country whose laws do not prohibit such proceedings, with exceptions; and (4) the Federal Circuit to permit an appeal from an order of the chief judge of the Claims Court with respect to such proceedings.

Amends the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 to require the contractor, for claims more than $50,000, to certify (in addition to current requirements) that the certifier is duly authorized to certify the claim on behalf of the contractor.

Provides that: (1) the contracting officer shall have no obligation to render a final decision on any claim of more than $50,000 that is not certified in accordance with the Act if, within 60 days after receipt of the claim, the contracting officer notifies the contractor in writing of the reasons why any attempted certification was found to be defective; (2) a defect in the certification of a claim shall not deprive a court or an agency board of contract appeals of jurisdiction over such claim; and (3) prior to the entry of a final judgment by a court or a decision by an agency board of contract appeals, the court or agency board shall require a defective certification to be corrected. Permits the certification required under the Act to be executed by any person duly authorized to bind the contractor with respect to the claim.

Grants the Claims Court jurisdiction over disputes concerning termination of a contract, rights in tangible or intangible property, compliance with cost accounting standards, and other nonmonetary disputes on which a decision of the contracting officer has been issued pursuant to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978.

Authorizes the award of costs whenever an action is dismissed in the Claims Court for lack of jurisdiction.

Makes applicable to the Claims Court provisions pertaining to costs, witness fees, forma pauperis proceedings, and counsel's liability for excessive costs which are currently applicable to other Federal trial courts.

Grants the Claims Court specified power to punish contempt of its authority and to have such assistance in carrying out its orders as is available to other Federal courts. Specifies that the U.S. marshal for any district in which the Claims Court is sitting shall, when requested by the chief judge of such court, attend any session of the court in such district.

Title X: Additional Provisions - Amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to repeal provisions regarding: (1) the distribution of excess amounts in the Crime Victims Fund; and (2) time limits on deposits into the Fund.

Modifies the formula regarding the availability of funds for expenditure and grant program percentages applicable to the Fund.

Amends the Federal criminal code to authorize a district court to direct that information not be collected, verified, or reported on individuals charged with Class A misdemeanors.

Amends the Federal criminal code to define the term "international terrorism" to include activities that: (1) involve violent acts that are a violation of Federal or State laws, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; (2) appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping; and (3) occur primarily outside U.S. territorial jurisdiction or transcend national boundaries.

Authorizes any U.S. national injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism to bring a civil action in U.S. district court and recover treble damages and the cost of the suit, including attorney's fees. Specifies that a final judgment or decree rendered in favor of the United States in certain classes of criminal proceedings (such as those involving the murder of a foreign official, kidnapping, hostage taking, killing of a U.S. national, or an aircraft piracy-related offense) or in favor of any foreign state in a criminal proceeding to the extent that such judgment or decree may be accorded full faith and credit under U.S. law shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of the criminal offense in a subsequent civil proceeding under this title.

Sets forth provisions with respect to jurisdiction and venue for, and limitation of, such civil actions.

Title XI: Effective Date - Makes the provisions of this Act effective January 1, 1993, with exceptions.

Specifies that all sums expended pursuant to this Act shall be subject to the availability of appropriations.