Monday, February 15, 2010

Live Blogging Senate Judiciary

4:51 - SCR1040 up now. Judges retirement ages. I am out of here.

4:49 - Bill will be held this week and heard next week to allow for a compromise to be worked out. Cheuvront warns that he will "be very vocal" if the bill isn't heard next week. Aguirre seems OK with this.

4:48 - The Yuma CA is back.

4:42 - Cheuvront and Lasota are sniping at each other, though in a far more tactful way than the earlier exchanges with Paton.

4:39 - Cheuvront and Paton are sniping at each other.

4:37 - Cheuvront questions allowing organizations to plead "ignorance" in order to avoid liability for their actions/inactions.

4:36 - Paton hints at an amendment to address Lasota's concerns.

4:28 - Jack Lasota is speaking against the bill. He's focusing on institutional liability. Wants limitless statute of limitations against perpetrators, but thinks that employers should be protected.

4:27 - Pearce is talking about predators and the possible "unintended consequences" of this bill. He's looking for cover for voting "No", I think.

4:25 - I really wish that I had a camera with me - the sour looks on the faces of Huppenthal, Paton, Gray, and Pearce are priceless.

4:21 - Another survivor of childhood sexual abuse is speaking. She is a more polished speaker, possibly because as the head of an organization of survivors, she has done this more often.

4:20 - Mr. Chesley is most definitely not a polished public speaker, and his testimony is all the more powerful for that fact.

4:16 - An adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Al Chesley, a former NFL player, is now speaking.

4:13 - The Rs on the committee seem hesitant about this bill, but they are going to have a hard time finding political cover for voting "no." Paton seems to be zeroing in on organizational liability.

4:07 - Paton is concerned about the bill's liability issues for organizations such as churches and schools. The bill would end the statute of limitations for civil actions, so if such an organization had done something wrong, they could be sued.

4:04 - A national victim's rights advocate is speaking in support of the bill.

4:03 - Paton talks about time, and announces that the Senate will have an additional week to consider Senate bills. Some of the later bills on the agenda will be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

3:58 - Pinal County Sheriff is speaking in support of the bill.

3:51 - The Yuma County Attorney is speaking in favor of the bill.

3:46 - SB1292, elimating the statute of limitations on civil actions regarding sexual offenses committed against minors. Amanda Aguirre's bill.

3:39 - Voting. Burton Cahill passes for now. Cheuvront thinks merit selection should be statewide, votes No. Gray wants to conduct a social experiment with having some counties with larger populations go with direct election, votes Yes. Miranda votes No. Pearce votes Yes. Huppenthal wants to end retention completely, votes Yes. Burton Cahill votes No. Paton talks about how AZ couldn't become a state because we allowed the recall of judges. That was eliminated for the purposes of statehood, but was added back into AZ law as soon as it became a state. Passes 4 - 3.

3:33 - Paton and the others bemoan the fact that most voters don't know anything about judges who are subject to retention by the voters, and think that Senate confirmation/direct election would make the judges better known. If I had signed in to speak, I would point out that society's judges are like baseball's umpires - the only ones who get a lot of public notice are the ones who screw up badly. Most Maricopa County judges, as well as those statewide, haven't done so.

3:29 - Personal note: The AC in this room (SHR1) works really well. That's a tactful way of saying that I'm freezing my a__ off. :)

3:27 - A Pinal judge argues against the bill because judges aren't supposed to be political.

3:22 - SCR1049, adjusting population limits for kicking in a merit selection/retention process for judges.

3:21 - SCR1049 up next out of deference to the Chief Justice, who is here to speak on it.

3:12 - Voting. Burton-Cahill - No. Cheuvront - thinks that an organization that has done such a poor job of running the state shouldn't have a place in running the judiciary, votes No. Chuck Gray decries the "lack of a free market" for judges and wants all judges should be elected, votes Yes. Miranda - thinks that current system works, votes No. Pearce - wants voters to pick judges based on "moral character", not professional qualifications, votes Yes. Huppenthal - thinks that system is fair, but wants elected judges, votes Yes to continue debate. Paton - thinks system is partisan and he wants in on some of that, votes Yes. Passes 4 - 3.

3:10 - Jack Harper considers this a battle against liberals and anyone with a "far left ideology", including the AZ State Bar.

3:09 - Reading the list of folks signed in opposing or supporting the bill. All but two oppose.

3:04 - He points out that AZ's judiciary is known as one of the fairest and most even-handed in the country and cites the example of a Republican candidate for state senate a few years ago who ran into some petition issues and who was sued by the AZDems to get him off of the ballot. The case was heard by three Democratic justices.

The R won his case.

3:00 - The lobbyist for the AZ Judges Association is now weighing in. They're opposed. Not exactly a shock, that. He points out that few if any folks have shown up in support of the measure.

2:56 - Paton is a partisan hack. He considers the fact that Jane Hull once appointed a Democrat to the AZ Supreme Court as "going against her own party." Apparently Paton considers partisan affiliation a more important qualification in judges than things like fairness or legal knowledge.

2:55 - Paton is trying to go into the partisan affiliations of the justices on the Supreme Court.

2:52 - Pelander points out that under Harper's proposal that Pima County judges would be approved by Maricopa politicians.

2:51 - Justice Pelander of the Supreme Court is defending the process he recently went through - he's the newest Justice on the AZ Supreme Court.

2:48 - Public Podium switched out. Mic is now working. YES! :)

2:47 - Paton says the system is broken and needs to be addressed.

2:46 - Berch stands up for the judiciary.

2:43 - Pearce doesn't think that "we the people" have enough influence over judge selection. He's making Paton's pro-Republicanization of the judiciary argument, just using different words.

2:41 - Paton wants to know why there aren't more Republicans on the Bar Association's nominating commission for judges. Berch doesn't know who is currently on the nominating commission.

2:38 - Paton questions Berch about some long unfilled vacancies. Berch points out that it is a political problem. The lobbyist behind me doesn't understand the concept of turning pages quietly, so I can't hear most of what is being said...oops. He caught the dirty looks he was getting and has stepped away. :)

2:34 - The Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, Rebecca Berch, is speaking to the proposal's lack of wisdom. The public mic isn't working. Ugh.

2:33 - Hearing on SCR1002, Jack Harper's proposal to politicize the state's judiciary by making the appointment of judges subject to Senate confirmation.

2:28 - Paton calls the meeting to order almost an hour late due to a long (but tedious) floor session.

No comments: