AN ACT TO INCREASE JUDICIAL EFFICIENCY AND THE EFFECTIVE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE BY MAKING HARD COPIES OF APPELLATE DIVISION REPORTS AVAILABLE TO PERSONS AND ENTITIES OTHER THAN THOSE LISTED IN STATUTE AT COST AND ALSO MAKING THEM AVAILABLE ELECTRONICALLY, ESTABLISHING THE JOINT SELECT STUDY COMMITTEE ON THE PRESERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE, DIRECTING THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS TO DEVELOP A CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR CIVIL CASES IN SUPERIOR COURT, DIRECTING THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS TO DEVELOP A WRITTEN, COMPREHENSIVE POLICY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES, DIRECTING THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS TO STUDY THE APPOINTMENT AND SUPERVISION OF MAGISTRATES, PROVIDING A MECHANISM FOR ENFORCING PAYMENT OF THE CRIMINAL MEDIATION FEE, AND PROVIDING FOR MEDIATED SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES IN DISTRICT COURT CIVIL ACTIONS.
Amends GS 7A-343.1, as the title indicates, making a substantial reduction in the distribution of hard copies of the appellate division reports at state expense, decreasing the number of recipients and decreasing the number of copies to the remaining recipients. Directs the Administrative Officer of the Courts to develop a process for making copies of the appellate division reports available for purchase at a purchase price that equals the actual cost to the state for publication and shipping of the report. Enacts new GS 7A-343.1(b), requiring that the appellate division reports be available electronically through publication in a downloadable format on a publicly available website, at no cost to the recipient.
Establishes the Joint Select Study Committee on the Preservation of Biological Evidence, consisting of 17 members. Sets out membership criteria. Provides that the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore will designate one legislative member each to serve as cochair. Committee is to meet at the call of the cochairs, with a quorum being a majority of its members. Sets out matters the Committee is to review regarding the preservation of DNA and biological evidence, including costs associated with the establishment of minimum guidelines for the retention and preservation of biological evidence, as well as any topic that is believed to be related to the purpose of the Committee. Sets out finances and per diem for the Committee, with all the specified expenses coming out of the Legislative Services Commission's Reserve for Studies. A final report on the study is due to the General Assembly by April 1, 2016. Copies of the report are to be filed with the President Pro Tempore's office, the Speaker's office, and the Legislative Library. The committee is to be terminated on April 1, 2016, or when the final report is filed, whichever happens first.
Directs the Department of Public Safety to study the possibility and cost-effectivenss of contracting with local business to perform maintenance on highway patrol vehicles. Requires the results of this study to be reported to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by March 1, 2016. Effective July 1, 2015.
Directs the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to study and develop a case management system for civil cases in superior court to make more efficient use of superior court time and resources. Provides direction for the focus of the study and the areas to be considered. Requires the AOC to report on the study and the system developed by the study to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by March 1, 2016. Effective July 1, 2015.
Requires the AOC to include specific guidelines for the distribution and maintenance of information technology hardware in its policy. Requires the AOC to report on this policy to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology by March 1, 2016. Effective July 1, 2015.
Also requires the AOC to study the current law regarding the appointment and supervision of magistrates, specifically whether supervision of magistrates should be the responsibility of a person other than the chief district court judge. The AOC is to report the study results to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by March 1, 2016. Effective July 1, 2015.
Amends GS 7A-38.7 to require that prior to mediation, (1) the parties be notified of the dispute resolution fee for cases resolved in mediation and (2) the fee be paid as part of any mediation that results in dismissal. Amends GS 7A-38.7(b) to prohibit dismissing a criminal case via referral to mediation unless the full dispute resolution fee is paid within 45 days of the completion of the mediation. Requires that the case be remanded to the court for disposition if the fee payment has not been made within the 45 days. Effective October 1, 2015, applying to criminal cases referred to mediation on or after that date.
Changes the caption of GS 7A-38.4A to Settlement procedures in family financial actions (previously, Settlement procedures in district court actions), clarifying that the section applies only to family financial actions. Makes a clarifying change. Effective July 1, 2015.
Enacts new GS 7A-38.4B, Settlement procedures in district court general civil actions, permitting mediated settlement conferences in all other district court civil actions. Allows the chief district court judge, or designee, to order parties in a civil action to participate in mediated settlement conferences or other settlement procedures. Excludes actions involving family issues covered by GS 7A-38.4 and issues exempted by Supreme Court rules. Provides that local rules can be adopted for the procedures as long as they are not inconsistent with any rules adopted by the Supreme Court. Sets out processes and procedures for interested parties including procedures for attendance, designation of a mediator, and assignment of associated costs. Also limits the admissibility and discovery, in future court proceedings, of communications made during the conferences with four exceptions, including proceedings for specified sanctions, and proceedings to enforce or rescind a settlement of the action. These provisions are closely modeled after and similar to existing statutes for mediated settlement conferences in family financial actions, namely GS 7A-38.4A (District Court) and GS 7A-38.1 (Superior Court). Effective July 1, 2015, applying to actions filed on or after that date.
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