2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division A; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Dearing
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-36, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE COUNTY COURT JUDGES AMONG THOSE FOR WHOM AN OFFICE ALLOWANCE IS APPROPRIATED; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-111, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT STATE FUNDING WILL BE CONTINGENT ON A COUNTY'S REGULAR YOUTH COURT REFEREE COMPLYING WITH ANNUAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-123, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR STATE AND COUNTY CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARD THE YOUTH COURT BUDGET; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 9-1-36, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-1-36. (1) Each circuit judge, county court judge and chancellor shall receive an office operating allowance for the expenses of operating the office of such judge, including retaining a law clerk, legal research, stenographic help, stationery, stamps, furniture, office equipment, telephone, office rent and other items and expenditures necessary and incident to maintaining the office of judge. Such allowance shall be paid only to the extent of actual expenses incurred by any such judge as itemized and certified by such judge to the Supreme Court and then in an amount of Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum; however, such judge may expend sums in excess thereof from the compensation otherwise provided for his office. No part of this expense or allowance shall be used to pay an official court reporter for services rendered to said court.
(2) In addition to the amounts provided for in subsection (1), there is hereby created a separate office allowance fund for the purpose of providing support staff to judges. This fund shall be managed by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(3) Each judge who desires to employ support staff after July 1, 1994, shall make application to the Administrative Office of Courts by submitting to the Administrative Office of Courts a proposed personnel plan setting forth what support staff is deemed necessary. Such plan may be submitted by a single judge or by any combination of judges desiring to share support staff. In the process of the preparation of the plan, the judges, at their request, may receive advice, suggestions, recommendations and other assistance from the Administrative Office of Courts. The Administrative Office of Courts must approve the positions, job descriptions and salaries before the positions may be filled. The Administrative Office of Courts shall not approve any plan which does not first require the expenditure of the funds in the support staff fund for compensation of any of the support staff before expenditure is authorized of county funds for that purpose. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the judge or judges may appoint the employees to the position or positions, and each employee so appointed will work at the will and pleasure of the judge or judges who appointed him but will be employees of the Administrative Office of Courts. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the appointment of any support staff shall be evidenced by the entry of an order on the minutes of the court. When support staff is appointed jointly by two (2) or more judges, the order setting forth any appointment shall be entered on the minutes of each participating court.
(4) The Administrative Office of Courts shall develop and promulgate minimum qualifications for the certification of court administrators. Any court administrator appointed on or after October 1, 1996, shall be required to be certified by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(5) Support staff shall receive compensation pursuant to personnel policies established by the Administrative Office of Courts; however, from and after July 1, 1994, the Administrative Office of Courts shall allocate from the support staff fund an amount of Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00) per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) per judge for whom support staff is approved for the funding of support staff assigned to a judge or judges. Any employment pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to the provisions of Section 25-1-53.
The Administrative Office of Courts may approve expenditure from the fund for additional equipment for support staff appointed pursuant to this section in any year in which the allocation per judge is sufficient to meet the equipment expense after provision for the compensation of the support staff.
(6) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meaning ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Judges" means circuit judges, county court judges and chancellors, or any combination thereof;
(b) "Support staff" means court administrators, law clerks, legal research assistants or secretaries, resource administrator or case manager appointed by a youth court judge, or any combination thereof, but shall not mean school attendance officers;
(c) "Compensation" means the gross salary plus all amounts paid for benefits or otherwise as a result of employment or as required by employment; provided, however, that only salary earned for services rendered shall be reported and credited for Public Employees' Retirement System purposes. Amounts paid for benefits or otherwise, including reimbursement for travel expenses, shall not be reported or credited for retirement purposes.
(7) Title to all tangible property, excepting stamps, stationery and minor expendable office supplies, procured with funds authorized by this section, shall be and forever remain in the State of Mississippi to be used by the * * * judge * * * during the term of his office and thereafter by his successors.
(8) Any * * * judge * * * who did not have a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, shall be allowed an additional Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum to defray the actual expenses incurred by such judge * * * in maintaining an office; however, any * * * judge * * * who had a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, and who vacated the office space after such date for a legitimate reason, as determined by the Department of Finance and Administration, shall be allowed the additional office expense allowance provided under this subsection. The county in which a * * * judge * * * sits is authorized to provide funds from any available source to assist in defraying the actual expenses to maintain an office.
(9) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall submit to the Department of Finance and Administration the itemized and certified expenses for office operating allowances that are directed to the court pursuant to this section.
(10) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations regarding the administration of the office operating allowance authorized pursuant to this section.
SECTION 2. Section 43-21-111, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-111. (1) In any county not having a county court, * * * the judge may appoint as provided in Section 43-21-123 regular or special referees who shall be attorneys at law and members of the bar in good standing to act in cases concerning children within the jurisdiction of the youth court, and a regular referee shall hold office until removed by the judge. The requirement that regular or special referees appointed pursuant to this subsection be attorneys shall apply only to regular or special referees who were not first appointed regular or special referees prior to July 1, 1991.
(2) Any referee appointed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section or subsection (3) of Section 43-21-107 shall be required to receive judicial training approved by the Mississippi Judicial College and shall be required to receive regular annual continuing education in the field of juvenile justice. The amount of judicial training and annual continuing education which shall be satisfactory to fulfill the requirements of this section shall conform with the amount prescribed by the Rules and Regulations for Mandatory Continuing Judicial Education promulgated by the Supreme Court. The Administrative Office of Courts shall maintain a roll of referees appointed under this section, shall enforce the provisions of this subsection, shall maintain records on all such referees regarding such training, and shall not disburse funds to any county for the budget of a youth court referee or municipal youth court referee who is not in compliance with the judicial training requirements. Should a referee miss two (2) consecutive training sessions sponsored or approved by the Mississippi Judicial College as required by this subsection or fail to attend one (1) such training session within six (6) months of their initial appointment as a referee, the referee shall be disqualified to serve and be immediately removed as a referee and another member of the bar shall be appointed as provided in this section.
(3) The judge may direct that hearings in any case or class of cases be conducted in the first instance by the referee. The judge may also delegate his own administrative responsibilities to the referee.
(4) All hearings authorized to be heard by a referee shall proceed in the same manner as hearings before the youth court judge. A referee shall possess all powers and perform all the duties of the youth court judge in the hearings authorized to be heard by the referee.
(5) An order entered by the referee shall be mailed immediately to all parties and their counsel. A rehearing by the judge shall be allowed if any party files a written motion for a rehearing or on the court's own motion within three (3) days after notice of referee's order. The youth court may enlarge the time for filing a motion for a rehearing for good cause shown. Any rehearing shall be upon the record of the hearing before the referee, but additional evidence may be admitted in the discretion of the judge. A motion for a rehearing shall not act as a supersedeas of the referee's order, unless the judge shall so order.
(6) The salary for the referee shall be * * * as provided in Section 43-21-123 * * *.
(7) * * * The judge of the chancery court may appoint a suitable person as referee to two (2) or more counties within his district * * *.
SECTION 3. Section 43-21-123, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-123. (1) Except for expenses provided by state funds and/or other monies, the board of supervisors, or the municipal governing board where there is a municipal youth court, shall adequately provide funds for the operation of the youth court division of the appropriate court in conjunction with the regular * * * court budget * * *. In preparation for said funding, on an annual basis at the time requested, the youth court judge, regular youth court referee or administrator shall prepare and submit to the board of supervisors, or the municipal governing board of the youth court wherever the youth court is a municipal court, an annual budget which will identify the number, staff position, title and amount of annual or monthly compensation of each position as well as provide for other expenditures necessary to the functioning and operation of the youth court. When the budget of the youth court or youth court judge is approved by the board of supervisors or the governing authority of the municipality, then the youth court, youth court judge, regular youth court referee or administrator may employ such persons as provided in the budget from time to time.
(2) The board of supervisors of any county in which there is located a youth court, and the governing authority of any municipality in which there is located a municipal youth court, are each authorized to reimburse the youth court referees and other county-employed youth court employees or personnel for reasonable travel and expenses incurred in the performance of their duties and in attending educational meetings offering professional training to such persons as budgeted.
(3) (a) In order to ensure that all youth courts not served by a county court have sufficient support funds to carry on the business of the youth court, the Administrative Office of Courts shall establish a formula for providing state support payable from the General Fund for the support of the youth courts. Youth court support funds shall be available to each regular youth court referee and municipal youth court referee so long as the senior chancellor does not elect to employ a youth court administrator as set forth in paragraph (b) of this subsection, and each regular youth court referee shall have the individual discretion to appropriate those funds as expense monies to assist in hiring secretarial staff and acquiring materials incident to carrying on the business of the court within the referee's private practice of law, or may direct the use of those funds through the county budget for court support supplies or services. The regular youth court referee and municipal youth court referee shall be accountable for assuring, through private or county employees, the proper preparation and filing of all necessary tracking and other documentation attendant to the administration of the youth court. The formula developed by the Administrative Office of Courts for providing youth court support funds shall be reviewed by the Administrative Office of Courts every two (2) years to ensure that the youth court support funds provided herein are proportional to each youth court's caseload. Approval of the use of any of the youth court support funds made under this subsection shall be made by the Administrative Office of Courts in accordance with procedures established by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(b) In lieu of accepting any referee support funds as provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection, when permitted by the Administrative Office of Courts, the senior chancellors of Chancery Districts One, Two, Three, Four, Six, Seven, Nine, Ten, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen and Eighteen may appoint a youth court administrator for the district whose responsibility will be to perform all reporting, tracking and other duties of a court administrator for all youth courts in the district which are under the chancery court system. The Administrative Office of Courts shall allocate to each chancellor so electing a sum not to exceed Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) per year to cover the salary, fringe benefits and equipment of such administrator, and an additional sum not to exceed One Thousand Nine Hundred Dollars ($1,900.00) to cover travel expenses of the administrator.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.