Bill Summary for H 1141 (2021)

Summary date: 

May 31 2022

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 1141 (Public) Filed Thursday, May 26, 2022
AN ACT TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS AND CONFORMING CHANGES TO VARIOUS PROVISIONS AFFECTING OUR STATE COURT SYSTEM AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Intro. by Stevens.

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Bill summary

Section 1

Revises Article 29A, GS Chapter 7A, to provide court administrators (previously named trial court administrators) for certain superior court districts and set out their duties. Makes conforming changes.

Section 2

Makes a technical correction to GS 15A-151(a), eliminating specific cross-references to certain expunction statutes in subdivisions (4) through (6), as amended by Section 2, SL 2020-35, and instead adopts the more broad cross reference to expunctions under the GS Chapter, provided in later SL 2021-107, Section 6. Applies retroactively to requests for disclosure of expunctions made on or after October 1, 2021. 

Section 3

Makes a technical change to Section 18(o), SL 2021-138, which requires district attorneys (DAs) or the Attorney General (AG) to determine whether individuals included in the subject class, meaning those subject to mandatory lifetime satellite-based monitoring based solely on their status as a statutorily defined recidivist who have completed their prison sentences and are no longer supervised by the State through probation, parole, or post-release supervision, meet any requirement to enroll in a satellite-based monitoring program other than being a recidivist. Regarding authority for DAs or the AG to petition for a judge to determine if the subject individual meets the criteria for satellite-based monitoring consistent with GS 14-208.40A, adds language to include any amendments to that statute by SB 183, if it becomes law (note, SB 183 was enacted as SL 2021-182, with Section 2, which amends GS 14-208.40A, becoming effective December 1, 2021). 

Section 4

Amends GS 20-135.2A(e), which provides for fees and court costs associated with seat belt infractions by drivers and front passengers, to eliminate language that requires court costs to be used to support the General Court of Justice and remitted to the State Treasurer, as the subsection's current language provides for other court cost fees, including law enforcement training and certification, and additional fees were enacted in Section 8.3, SL 2022-6 that become effective July 1, 2022, including county fees and fees to support supplemental pension benefits of sheriffs. 

Section 5

Regarding the authority of a clerk of superior court or magistrate to conduct a first appearance under GS 15A-601 when a district court judge is not available within 72 hours after the defendant is taken into custody, specifies that, for the limited purpose of conducting the first appearance, the clerk or the magistrate is to proceed as a district court judge would and have the same authority that a district court judge has at a first appearance (previously, did not specify that the clerk or magistrate has the authority of a judge when conducting a first appearance).

Amends GS 15A-604 to require a district court judge to determine whether each charge in a criminal process or magistrate order is a misdemeanor offense within the original jurisdiction of the court, alternatively to the existing requirements to determine if each charge is a criminal offense within the original jurisdiction of the superior court. Makes conforming changes regarding notice to prosecutors for a process or order that fails to charge either such offense. 

Amends GS 15A-606 to limit the scope of the probable-cause hearing requirements to cases where defendants are charged with an offense within the original jurisdiction of the superior court. Makes language gender-neutral.

Section 6

Amends GS 12-3, applicable to statutory construction, to define seal to include an image or other mark adopted by a court or office as its seal. Defines written and in writing to require written signatures to be a mark affixed by the use of any manual, mechanical, or electronic means that causes the individual's signature to appear in or on the document. 

Amends GS 15-189, regarding pronounced death sentences, to require judges to make the pronouncement in writing to be filed in the record (was, papers) of the case. 

Amends GS 15-192, regarding certification of an execution, to require wardens to file certifications with the clerk to be filed with the record (was, papers) of the case. 

Amends GS 15A-101.1, which provides defined terms that deal with criminal process and procedure in GS Chapters 7A, 15, and 15A. Defines copy to include electronic form (was limited to paper form), and to establish that a copy of a document is equally authoritative as the original unless expressly provided by law or when authority is vested only in a certified copy. Eliminates electronic signature as a defined term and makes conforming deletions, reflecting the changes to written signatures under GS 12-3. Amends filing as related to electronic documents to eliminate the provision establishing that filing is complete when the document has first been unalterably retained in the electronic records of the office where the document is to be filed. Revises the term issued as it related to electronic forms to no longer require a document that is first created in electronic form to be retained in the Electronic Repository to be issued. No longer explicitly includes an electronic signature in the defined term signature, reflecting the changes to written signatures under GS 12-3. Adds and defines attach or attached to mean physical attachment for paper documents, and for stored electronic documents, storage as a single digital file or in a manner that a user interface for access to the documents displays clearly the logical association between them to the exclusion of unassociated documents. Adds that for documents delivered in electronic form, attached means simultaneous delivery via the same mechanism or medium or in immediate, contemporaneous sequence that the relations between the documents appear on the face of the documents. 

Amends GS 15A-131 to more generally define pretrial proceedings to include proceedings occurring after the initial appearance and prior to arraignment (removing limiting language referring to first appearance before a magistrate only).

Amends GS 15A-301 regarding criminal process to refer to signature from the issuing judicial official, rather than the issuing justice, judge, magistrate, or clerk. Regarding the requirement that a district attorney or their designee must approve an arrest warrant, arrest order, criminal summons, or other criminal process issued by a magistrate against a school employee for an offense that occurred while the school employee was discharging their employment duties, eliminates the provision limiting district attorney to mean the elected district attorney only. Now requires a district attorney declining this authority to file (was, transmit) a letter with the clerk of superior court and provide a copy of the filed letter to the chief district court judge, who must then appoint magistrates to review any such application for misdemeanor offenses (previously, the district attorney filed the letter with the chief district court judge). 

Amends GS 15A-301.1 to allow for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to maintain more than one electronic repository for criminal process, collectively referred to as the Electronic Repository. No longer requires that AOC create the repositories, but maintains AOC's charge to maintain them. Eliminates reference to electronic signatures required to meet the term's definition in GS 15A-101.1, as repealed by the act. Requires the copy of a process printed for the purpose of service to be served no later than 24 hours after it is printed, with the time, date, and place of service recorded in the Electronic Repository. 

Amends GS 15A-302(d) to eliminate the requirement for an individual to sign a receipt on a citation, and the requirement for officers to certify delivery by signing the receipt that is filed with the clerk for persons that fail to sign.

Amends GS 15A-531, which provides definitions for Article 26, relating to bail, to define the address of record of insurance companies, bail agents, and professional bondsmen to be that which is registered with AOC (was, with the clerk of superior court) pursuant to GS 58-71-140, as amended.

Amends GS 15A-537 to require persons effecting a release to file documents (was, papers) pertaining to the release with the clerk.

Amends GS 58-71-140, which requires AOC to establish a statewide Electronic Bondsmen Registry for all licenses requiring registration under the statute, whereby a person can register by maintaining a record of each required license, power of appointment, or power of attorney in the Registry, including those of bondsmen, surety bondsmen, or runners. Requires license information in the Registry for bail bondsmen and insurance companies to be provided to AOC by the Commissioner of Insurance or their designee. Provides authority to execute bail bonds pursuant to the license, power of appointment, or power of attorney upon appearance in the Registry (was, when the bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner has completed registration). Eliminates reference to AOC notifying the Commissioner, who must then notify such licensees, of the Registry. Provides that upon appearance in the Registry, execution of a proposed bond is not otherwise prohibited under GS 15A-544.7(d). 

Makes technical and clarifying changes to GS 15A-744. Makes language gender-neutral. 

Amends GS 15A-832 to require the prosecutor to submit to the court at the sentencing hearing a copy of a form containing the information required in GS 15A-831(c), related to the defendant, and subsection (b) of the statute, relating to a victim's election to receive notices of trial and post trial proceedings involving the accused, including the victim's election to receive further notices under the Victims' Rights Act, Article 46 (previously, only referred to identifying information under GS 15A-831(c) about a victim's election regarding notices). Requires the clerk and the defendant's custodial agency to maintain the form as a confidential record (previously only explicitly required of the custodial agency). Effective December 1, 2022. 

Amends GS 15A-832.1 to require the clerk to forward to the district attorney's office a copy of the victim-identifying information included with a warrant based on the testimony of a complaining witness (previously did not specify copy). Adds a new requirement for the clerk to maintain the clerk's copy of the form as a confidential record. Effective December 1, 2022. 

Amends GS 122C-54 to require a facility to send the report of a mental examination of a defendant ordered by the court under GS 15A-1002 to the clerk pursuant to GS 15A-1002(d), which includes reporting requirements to the clerk, sheriff, defense counsel, and district attorney (previously, required the results or the report to be sent to the clerk, the district attorney or prosecutor, and the attorney of record for the defendant). Adds that the facility must also provide the clerk a separate covering statement containing the examiner's conclusion as to whether the defendant has or lacks the capacity to proceed. Effective December 1, 2022. 

Amends GS 15A-1340.14(f) and GS 15A-1340.21(c) relating to proof of prior convictions used in structured sentencing, to include by statutory cross-reference the definition of copies set out in GS 15A-101.1, as amended, in the definition given to the term applicable to that subsection. 

Amends GS 15A-1382, which requires a report of the disposition of the charges to be made to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) on a form supplied by the SBI within 60 days following disposition.  Adds a new subsection to alternatively permit the disposition report to be made by electronic submission from the courts' recordkeeping applications to the SBI in any format mutually agreed upon by the SBI and the AOC.

Amends GS 15A-1382.1, regarding reports of dispositions involving domestic violence or child abuse, to require the judge to indicate on the judgement of conviction (was, on the form reflecting the judgement) that the case involved domestic violence or child abuse. 

Amends GS 20-179.3 to no longer require applications for limited driving privileges made after sentencing to be filed with the clerk in duplicate. 

Sections 7 and 8

Effective January 1, 2023, amends GS 15A-1340.16 and GS 15A-150 to refer to the Department of Public Safety or the Department of Adult Correction, as appropriate. 

Section 9

Appropriates $20,000 from the General Fund to AOC for 2022-23 for education of court system staff and affected public stakeholders of the act's provisions. Effective July 1, 2022. 

Section 10 includes a severability clause.

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