2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Albritton
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI SATELLITE CRIME LAB STUDY COMMITTEE; TO SPECIFY THE MEMBERSHIP THEREOF; TO SET FORTH THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY COMMITTEE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ELECTION OF A CHAIRPERSON AND OTHER OFFICERS; TO PROVIDE FOR MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO PROVIDE ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT TO THE COMMITTEE; TO SET FORTH ADDITIONAL DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE COMMITTEE; TO REQUIRE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO ASSIST THE COMMITTEE; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMITTEE TO ENLIST THE SERVICE OF OTHER AGENCIES, ASSOCIATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS TO ASSIST THE COMMITTEE; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMITTEE TO EMPLOY SUPPORT PERSONNEL; TO AUTHORIZE PER DIEM PAYMENT AND TRAVEL EXPENSES; TO AUTHORIZE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Mississippi Satellite Crime Lab Study Committee is hereby created. It shall consist of fifteen (15) voting and two (2) nonvoting members who are to be selected as follows:
(a) The chair of the Department of the Administration of Justice at the University of Southern Mississippi, or his designee, shall be a member.
(b) The chair of the Department of the Administration of Justice at the University of Mississippi, or his designee, shall be a member.
(c) One (1) circuit judge shall be elected by the Conference of Circuit Judges and one (1) county court judge shall be elected by the Conference of County Court Judges.
(d) One (1) sheriff shall be elected by the Sheriffs' Association.
(e) One (1) police chief shall be elected by the Police Chiefs' Association.
(f) The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Division B, and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary "B" Committee, or their designees, shall serve as legislative liaisons and nonvoting members.
(g) The Lieutenant Governor shall appoint two (2) members, neither of whom is an attorney nor a member of the Legislature.
(h) The Speaker of the House shall appoint two (2) members, neither of whom is an attorney nor a member of the Legislature.
(i) The Presidents of The Mississippi Bar and the Magnolia Bar Association shall each appoint one (1) member, each of whom shall be licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi.
(j) Two (2) prosecutors shall be elected by the Prosecutors' Association, at least one (1) of whom is a District Attorney or employed by a District Attorney.
(k) The Governor shall appoint one (1) Public Defender, who may work at either the trial or appellate level.
Members shall be appointed for a two-year term. Appointments and vacancies on the study committee shall be filled by the respective selecting and appointing authorities.
(2) The purpose of the study committee shall be to make recommendations to the Legislature, the Department of Public Safety, and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning as to the needs of the Mississippi Crime Lab, including obtaining statistical information with reference to cases in the various courts in Mississippi; conducting research relating to improvement of the delivery of services to the judicial system and the law enforcement agencies in the State of Mississippi; and making a comprehensive study of the state Crime Lab for the purpose of the improvement thereof. In addition, the study committee is charged with the examination of the operational needs, including budget, staffing, and the best placement administratively, of the current Crime Lab, as well as the possibility of inaugurating satellite labs under the auspices of the Criminal Justice Programs of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and the University of Mississippi in Oxford to assist the Crime Lab in the southern and northern thirds of the state by utilization of faculty and graduate student skills to reduce the backlog of cases, and may make such policy recommendations as will promote the administration of justice.
(3) (a) The Governor shall set and give notice of the time, date and place of the initial meeting, at which time the study committee shall elect a chairperson from its members who shall preside at the meetings of the committee. The chair shall not vote unless necessary to break a tie vote of the committee. In addition, the committee shall elect a vice chair who shall preside over meetings in the absence of the chair. The committee shall elect any other officers which it considers necessary to carry out the purpose of the committee. The committee may form any committees from its membership in order to assist the committee in accomplishing its purposes as provided in this chapter.
(b) The committee shall meet quarterly and at such other times as meetings may be called by the chair. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum at any meeting. Any final action taken by the study committee shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of the nonlegislative members.
(4) The Department of Public Safety shall provide such support of the Mississippi Satellite Crime Lab Study Committee as is necessary to accomplish the purposes of this act, including, but not limited to, research and clerical assistance.
(5) (a) In addition to the other duties specified, the committee shall file a report with the Legislature not later than November 15, 2006. The document shall report on the operational and administrative state of the crime lab, with emphasis on the state of the case backlog. The report shall also make specific recommendations for improvement in the administration and operation of the crime lab.
(b) The committee is authorized and empowered for the accomplishment of its purposes to undertake any studies, reviews, inquiries, hearings, examinations, surveys or analyses as it may deem pertinent, relevant and justified. The committee shall propose and prepare in detailed form for the consideration of the Legislature such amendments to existing law, such statutes, and such constitutional amendments as in the judgment of the committee will improve the operation of the crime lab and promote the administration of justice.
(6) The committee is authorized to call upon any and all existing courts, agencies, departments, divisions, officers, employees, boards, bureaus, commissions and institutions of the State of Mississippi, or any political subdivision thereof, to furnish such information, data and assistance as will enable it to carry out its powers and duties hereunder and all such agencies, departments, divisions, officers, employees, boards, bureaus, commissions and institutions of the State of Mississippi and its political subdivisions are hereby directed to cooperate with the committee and render such information, data, aid and assistance as may be requested by the committee.
(7) The committee shall have the power to enlist the services of any agency, either public or private, or any individual or educational institution, bar association, research organization, foundation or educational or civic organization for assistance in accomplishing the purposes of this act, conducting research studies, gathering information or printing and publishing its reports. The committee is authorized to make and sign any agreements or contracts to do or perform any actions that may be necessary, desirable or proper to carry out the purposes and objectives of this chapter.
(8) The committee may employ any agents, clerks, researchers, counsel, consultants and other personnel necessary for the performance of the duties of the study committee and fix their respective rates of compensation, all subject to the approval of the State Personnel Board and within the amounts made available by appropriation therefor or received from other sources.
(9) Members of the committee shall receive a per diem as provided in Section 25-3-69 for actual attendance upon meetings of the study committee, together with reimbursement for traveling and subsistence expenses incurred as provided in Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, except that members of the study committee who are members of the Legislature shall not receive per diem for attendance while the Legislature is in session and no member whose regular compensation is payable by the state or any political subdivision of the state shall receive per diem for attendance upon meetings of the study committee.
(10) The committee is authorized and empowered to receive and expend any funds appropriated to it by the Legislature and any funds received by it from any other source in carrying out the objectives and purposes of this chapter.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.