Bill Summary for H 113 (2021-2022)

Summary date: 

Mar 24 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 113 (Public) Filed Wednesday, February 17, 2021
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES AND TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO THE LAWS GOVERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
Intro. by Stevens.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

Makes a conforming change to GS 7A-38.2 to increase the members of the Dispute Resolution Commission from 17 to 18 to reflect the proposed addition of a court management staff member.

Modifies the proposed changes to Rule 51 of the Rules of Civil Procedure to require the court to reduce oral jury instructions to writing for civil cases subject to GS 90-21.11 (subsection (b) defines medical malpractice action) rather than Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure regarding medical malpractice pleadings. Makes technical changes. Modifies the proposed changes to GS 7A-47.3 to direct the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge to designate a specific resident judge or a specific judge assigned to hold court in the district to preside over all proceedings in a case subject to GS 90-21.11 (subsection (b) defines medical malpractice action) rather than Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure regarding medical malpractice pleadings. No longer requires consultation with the Administrative Office of the Courts; maintains required consultation with the parties to the case. 

Modifies the proposed changes to the Judicial Standards Commission, governed by GS 7A-375. Makes clarifying changes regarding the NCGA's appointment of two alternate members to serve in the event of conflict or disqualification of the two Commission members the NCGA has appointed to serve. Makes a technical correction to a subsection title. 

Adds the following provisions.

Amends GS 15A-305 to specify that an order for arrest can only be issued for a defendant's failure to appear as required by a duly executed criminal summons if the summons charged the defendant with a criminal offense. 

Amends GS 15A-1011 regarding pleas in district and superior courts. Expands the types of cases authorized for pleas to be received outside of open court in subdivision (a)(4), which currently includes traffic offenses and hunting, fishing, and boating offenses, to include written pleas for the types of offenses specified in GS 7A-273(2) authorized under GS 7A-148(a) (including misdemeanor or infraction cases for alcohol offenses; traffic offenses; hunting, fishing, State park and recreation area rule offenses; boating offenses; open burning offenses; and littering offenses). 

Amends GS 51-5.5 regarding magistrates' right to recuse from performing lawful marriages. Adds a new provision to specify that a recusal does not prohibit a magistrate who is also an ordained minister of any religious denomination or a minister authorized by a church from performing lawful marriages as a minister. Makes further clarifying changes.

Amends GS 1C-1603 regarding the procedure for setting aside property exempt from the enforcement of creditors' claims, which are set forth in GS 1C-1601. Current procedure prohibits a clerk from issuing an execution or writ of possession for property after judgment unless notice from the court has been served on the judgment debtor advising the debtor of the debtor's rights. Adds a new provision to specify that this notice is not required if the property exemptions under GS 1C-1601 are inapplicable based on their exception from the exemption, set forth in GS 1C-1601(e), which enumerates 10 exemptions including claims of the federal government and claims of the State. Further amends GS 1C-1603 to eliminate the provision stating that failure to file a motion to designate exemptions or failure to request a hearing before the clerk within 20 days after notice of the debtor's rights was served results in waiver of the personal property and homestead exemptions of Sections 1 and 2 of Article X of the NC Constitution; maintains that such failures result in waiver of the exemptions provided in Article 16.

Amends GS 42-34.1 concerning undertaking an appeal in summary ejectment cases, to specify that a plaintiff appellee can apply to the clerk of superior court to immediately issue a writ of possession if the defendant appellant fails to make rental payments within five business days of the day rent is due under the terms of the residential rental agreement (currently only specifies five days).

Enacts GS 7A-49.6 granting a general authorization for judicial officials to conduct proceedings of all types by means of an audio and video transmission in which the parties, the presiding official, and any other participants can see and hear each other. Requires participating parties to be able to communicate fully and confidentially with his or her attorney, if represented. Requires good cause for allowing a witness to testify by audio or video transmission in proceedings involving a jury. Establishes criteria that must be met when the right to confront witnesses or be present is implicated in criminal or juvenile delinquency proceedings, including (1) the court has obtained a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights or (2) the court finds that the use of audio and video transmission in the absence of a waiver is necessary to further an important State interest and will not materially prejudice the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights. Allows parties to object to conducting a proceeding by audio or video transmission, and prohibits holding the proceeding by audio or video transmission if the presiding official finds that the party has demonstrated good cause for the objection. Requires compliance with state and federal laws governing confidentiality and security of confidential information. Provides for public and media access to proceedings and proceeding recordings, if applicable. Specifies that the statute is not intended to limit the court's authority to receive remote testimony under state law. Requires all proceedings to be conducted using videoconferencing applications approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Defines the term judicial official to include judges of the appellate, superior court, and district court divisions; clerks of superior court; and magistrates. 

Repeals language in the following statutes relating to authority to conduct specific proceedings using audio or video technology, as identified, to reflect the new general authorization for judicial officials to conduct any proceeding using audio or video transmission pursuant to GS 7A-49.6: GS 7B-1906(h) (concerning hearings for continued custody of a juvenile), GS 15A-101.1(2) (defining document as used in the provisions regarding electronic technology in criminal process and procedure), GS 15A-245(a)(3) (concerning issuance of search warrants), GS 15A-304(d)(3) (concerning warrants for arrest), GS 15A-511(a1) (concerning initial appearance before a magistrate), GS 15A-532 (concerning conditions for pretrial release), GS 15A-601 (concerning first appearance before a district court judge), GS 15A-941 (concerning arraignment), GS 50B-2(e) (concerning ex parte relief in domestic violation actions), GS 50C-6(e) (concerning temporary civil no-contact orders), GS 50C-7 (concerning permanent civil no-contact orders), and GS 122C-268(g) (concerning inpatient commitment; maintains the requirements for AOC to approve the procedures and type of equipment for audio and video transmission used pursuant to this statute). Applies to proceedings occurring on or after April 1, 2021.

Authorizes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to expand the active list of emergency superior court judges to no more than 25, notwithstanding the limit of 10 set in GS 7A-52(a). Expands the Chief Justice's authority to include assignment of emergency judges to hold regular or special sessions of court to address case management issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunsets the authorities granted on July 1, 2022.

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