Summary: H.R.4357 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4357. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (05/05/1994)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Federal Courts Study Committee Recommendations

Title II: Judicial Financial Administration

Title III: Judicial Process Improvements

Title IV: Judiciary Personnel Administration, Benefits,

and Protections

Title V: Criminal Law

Title VI: Criminal Justice Act Amendments

Title VII: Places of Holding Court

Title VIII: Bankruptcy

Title IX: Miscellaneous

Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1994 - Title I: Federal Courts Study Committee Recommendations - Amends the Federal judicial code to increase the threshold amount in controversy (from $50,000 to $75,000) to qualify for diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. Provides for annual increases in that amount based on the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, effective January 1, 2000.

(Sec. 102) Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to increase the period ( from 90 to 120 days) during which the court may continue a case in a civil action for deprivation of rights in order to require exhaustion of administrative remedies. Permits: (1) requiring exhaustion of remedies if the Attorney General has certified or the court has determined that such administrative remedies are fair and effective; (2) certification of grievance resolution systems for adults confined in correctional or pretrial detention facilities if such systems are fair and effective; and (3) the Attorney General to suspend or withdraw such certification at any time he has reasonable cause to believe the grievance procedure is no longer fair and effective.

(Sec. 103) Amends the Federal judicial code to revise provisions regarding a bankruptcy judge's hearing of a proceeding related to a case under title 11. Specifies that if a party: (1) files a timely objection, the bankruptcy judge shall submit the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to the district court, and any final order or judgment shall be entered by the district judge after considering the bankruptcy judge's proposed findings and conclusions and after reviewing de novo those matters to which any party has timely and specifically objected; and (2) does not file a timely objection, the party shall be deemed to consent to the findings and conclusions proposed by the bankruptcy judge, which shall become final, and the bankruptcy judge shall enter an appropriate order thereon.

(Sec. 104) Amends the National Labor Relations Act to authorize the National Labor Relations Board, if any person violates a final order issued by the Board with respect to an unfair labor practice, to petition any U.S. district court in which the practice occurred, or in which such person resides or transacts business, for imposition of a monetary penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each day such person violates the order. Grants the district courts jurisdiction to impose such penalty.

(Sec. 105) Amends the Federal judicial code to require the chief judge of the Court of International Trade to be the judge of the court in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who: (1) are 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a judge of the court; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge. Sets forth provisions regarding the precedence of judges in acting as chief judge.

(Sec. 106) Repeals provisions prohibiting increasing the salary of any Federal judge or Justice of the Supreme Court except as specifically authorized by Act of Congress.

Title II: Judicial Financial Administration - Amends the Federal judicial code to provide that in FY 1993 and each fiscal year thereafter a specified amount shall be transferred annually to the judiciary into a special fund of the Treasury (special fund) for expenses incurred in: (1) adjudication of civil and criminal forfeiture proceedings that result in deposits into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund (except the expense of salaries of judges); (2) representation of offenders whose assets have been seized in forfeiture proceedings to the extent that such expenses of representation could have been recovered through an order for payment or reimbursement of the Defender Services appropriation; and (3) supervision by U.S. probation officers of offenders under home detention or other forms of confinement outside of Bureau of Prisons facilities.

Requires the amount transferred to be: (1) a portion of the total amount to be transferred from the combined fiscal year deposits into both the Fund and the Department of Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund, which total shall not exceed the statement of costs incurred by the judiciary in providing such services, subject to specified requirements; and (2) paid from revenues deposited into the Fund during the fiscal year in which the expenses were incurred and are not required to be specified in appropriations Acts.

(Sec. 202) Makes moneys in the Judiciary Automation Fund available to the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts without fiscal year limitation for the procurement of automatic data processing equipment for program activities included in the courts of appeals, district courts, and other judicial services accounts of the judicial branch.

Permits: (1) the use of such Fund for support personnel in the courts and in the Administrative Office; and (2) all agencies of the judiciary to make deposits into such Fund to meet their automatic data processing needs.

Terminates such Fund and authorities related to such Fund on September 30, 1999 (currently, 1994). Directs that all unobligated amounts remaining in such Fund on that date be deposited into the special fund (currently, the Judicial Services Account).

(Sec. 203) Increases: (1) the fee for filing a civil action; and (2) the amount taken from such fees, or as part of a judgment for costs, to be deposited into the special fund.

(Sec. 204) Provides that: (1) for FY 1994 and thereafter, of each fee collected for admission of an attorney to practice, $30 of that portion of the fee exceeding $20 shall be deposited into the special fund; and (2) any portion exceeding five dollars of the fee for a duplicate certificate of admission or certificate of good standing shall be deposited into the special fund.

(Sec. 205) Directs that, upon an election by a bankruptcy judge or magistrate judge, all of the accrued employer contributions and accrued interest on those contributions made on behalf of the bankruptcy judge or magistrate judge to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund shall be transferred to the special fund, with exceptions.

(Sec. 206) Provides that in every case in which the right to withdraw money deposited in court in pending and adjudicated cases has been adjudicated or is not in dispute and such money has remained so deposited and unclaimed for at least 90 days, the court shall cause such money to be transferred to the Director. Requires: (1) the Director to assume all fiduciary duties and responsibilities for such transferred money; (2) interest earned by such money while under the authorized control of the Director to be treated as interest earned on funds deposited in a court's registry; and (3) any charges collected by the judiciary for administering the funds to be deposited into the Registry Administration Account in the Treasury.

(Sec. 207) Authorizes the Director, if necessary to develop and administer criterion referenced performance examinations for purposes of certification or other examinations for the selection of otherwise qualified interpreters, to prescribe for each examination a uniform fee. Requires the Director, in determining the fee, to consider the fees charged by other organizations for similar examinations.

Grants the Director retroactive authority to include in any contract for the development or administration of examinations for interpreters a provision which permits the contractor to collect and retain fees in payment for contractual services.

Title III: Judicial Process Improvements - Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize all judicial districts to elect to utilize arbitration programs. Repeals certain limitations on the authorization of appropriations.

(Sec. 302) Expands the duties of a magistrate judge on an emergency assignment.

(Sec. 303) Authorizes only a person charged with a misdemeanor that is not a petty offense to elect to be tried before a judge of the district court for the district in which the offense was committed. Prohibits a magistrate judge from proceeding to try a case unless, after explaining to the defendant that he has a right to trial, judgment, and sentencing by a district court judge and that he may have a right to jury trial before a district judge or magistrate, the defendant expressly consents to be tried before the magistrate judge and expressly and specifically waives trial, judgment, and sentencing by a judge of the district court (and such consent and waiver shall be made in writing or orally on the record).

Authorizes the magistrate judge, in a petty offense case involving a juvenile, to exercise powers granted to the district court.

(Sec. 304) Prohibits a civil action in a State court from being removed to U.S. district court solely on the basis of concurrent jurisdiction over a claim under specified provisions of the Employment Retirement Security Act of 1974.

(Sec. 305) Prohibits the original jurisdiction of the district courts from being invoked if any plaintiff joined in the complaint is a citizen of the State in which is located the district court in which the suit is filed.

Title IV: Judiciary Personnel Administration, Benefits, and Protections - Amends Federal judicial retirement provisions to list age and service requirements for retaining office but retiring from regular active service for persons age 60 through 64.

Authorizes: (1) retroactive credit for resumption of a significant workload by a judge under specified circumstances; and (2) aggregation by a justice or judge for partial years worked.

(Sec. 403) Revises provisions regarding: (1) the contribution rate for senior judges under the judicial survivors' annuities system; (2) the refund of contributions for deceased deferred annuitants under the judicial survivors' annuities system; and (3) disability retirement and cost-of-living adjustments of annuities for territorial judges. Specifies that any judge of the District Courts of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands who has served at least five years and who retires or is removed upon the sole ground of mental or physical disability, shall be entitled to receive during the remainder of such judge's life an annuity equal to 40 percent of the salary received when the judge left office or, in the case of a judge who has served at least ten years, an annuity equal to that proportion of such salary which the aggregate number of such judge's years of judicial service bears to 15.

(Sec. 406) Authorizes the Director of the Federal Judicial Center to fix the compensation of no more than five percent of the positions of the Center at a level not to exceed the annual rate of basic pay of level IV of the Executive Schedule.

(Sec. 407) Includes a congressional employee in the capacity of primary administrative assistant to a Member of Congress, or staff director or chief counsel for the majority or minority of a committee or subcommittee of the Senate or House of Representatives, among officials subject to creditable service for purposes of retirement upon completion of five years of service.

Title V: Criminal Law - Amends the Federal criminal code to authorize probation and pretrial services officers, if approved by the district court, to carry firearms under such rules as the Director of the Administrative Office may prescribe.

(Sec. 502) Authorizes the court to direct the U.S. marshal to arrange or furnish: (1) transportation expenses to enable a defendant who is financially unable to provide transportation to consult with his or her attorney or to return to the place of his or her arrest or bona fide residence; and (2) lodging expenses during the defendant's travel to his or her destination during any proceedings at which his or her appearance is required or during the time he or she is consulting with counsel.

(Sec. 503) Amends the Contract Services for Drug Dependent Federal Offenders Treatment Act of 1978 to reauthorize appropriations.

Title VI: Criminal Justice Act Amendments - Amends the Federal criminal code to require that a Federal defender organization be established for any district or part of a district or combination of districts where the Judicial Conference determines that: (1) such an organization would be cost effective; or (2) the interests of effective representation otherwise require establishment of such an organization.

Authorizes two adjacent districts or parts of districts to establish a defender organization to serve both areas.

(Sec. 602) Permits the plan for any district which has not established a Federal defender organization to provide for the establishment of a panel attorney support office to assist the court in managing the panel of attorneys who provide representation pursuant to such plan. Requires such office to provide advice to appointed counsel, maintain a list of members of the panel, review vouchers for compensation prior to submission to judicial officers for approval, coordinate training of members of the panel, and perform any other duties in administering the plan for the district which the court may delegate.

Requires the district court to appoint an administrator to direct such office. Specifies that: (1) the Administrator may be employed on a part-time or full-time basis and may appoint such number of employees as may be approved by the Director of the Administrative Office; and (2) such employees shall be subject to removal by the Administrator.

(Sec. 603) Provides for the Judicial Conference to determine: (1) compensation for attorneys appointed by the court; and (2) maximum amounts of compensation for services other than counsel.

(Sec. 605) Specifies that the services of paralegals and qualified law students shall be compensated or reimbursed at hourly rates established by the Judicial Conference.

(Sec. 606) Amends the Federal judicial code to make provisions of the Tort Claims Act applicable to any claim for money damages for injury, loss of liberty, loss of property, or personal injury or death arising from malpractice or negligence of an officer or employee of a Federal Public Defender Organization in furnishing representational services.

Title VII: Places of Holding Court - Amends the Federal judicial code to rename the Hammond Division in Indiana as the Western Division and to direct that court for such division be held at Lafayette and at a suitable site in Lake or Porter Counties.

(Sec. 702) Directs that court for the: (1) Southern District of New York be held at New York and White Plains (as under current law) and in the Middletown-Wallkill area of Orange County, or such nearby location as may be deemed appropriate; and (2) Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas be held at Sherman (as under current law) and Plano.

Title VIII: Bankruptcy - Authorizes a bankruptcy administrator or the bankruptcy administrator's designee to: (1) preside at a meeting of creditors and of equity security holders; and (2) examine the debtor at a meeting of creditors and administer the oath.

(Sec. 803) Authorizes an entity injured by a willful violation of an automatic stay under a title 11 proceeding to recover actual damages, including costs and attorney fees, and (where appropriate) punitive damages.

Title IX: Miscellaneous - Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the Director of the Administrative Office to pay a claim by a person summoned to serve or serving as a grand juror or petit juror for loss of, or damage to, personal property that occurs incident to that person's performance of duties in response to the summons or at the direction of an officer of the court. Grants the Director authority granted to the head of an agency for the consideration of employees' personal property claims. Requires the Director to prescribe guidelines for the consideration of claims.

(Sec. 902) Expands workers' compensation coverage for jurors to cover traveling to or from the courthouse pursuant to a jury summons or sequestration order, or as otherwise necessitated by order of the court.

(Sec. 903) Repeals a provision barring from jury service members of fire and police departments and public officers actively engaged in the performance of official duties.

(Sec. 904) Considers a court reporter to be a full-time employee during any pay period for which the reporter receives a salary at the annual salary rate fixed for a full-time reporter.

(Sec. 909) Provides that: (1) when the office of clerk of court is vacant, the deputy clerks shall perform the duties of the clerk in the name of the last person who held that office; and (2) when the clerk is incapacitated, absent, or otherwise unavailable to perform official duties, the deputy clerks shall perform the duties of the clerk in the name of the clerk. Authorizes the court to designate a deputy clerk to act temporarily as clerk of the court in his or her own name.

(Sec. 910) Specifies that a judgment in an action for the recovery of money or property entered in any court of appeals, bankruptcy court, or in the Court of International Trade, as well as any district court, may be registered by filing a certified copy of the judgment, subject to specified requirements.

(Sec. 911) Authorizes magistrate judge positions in the district courts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

(Sec. 912) Repeals a provision authorizing any civil action, not of a local nature, against defendants residing in different districts in the same State to be brought in any of such districts.