CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 5367 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) on June 24, 2010.
H.R. 5367 would revise certain authorities granted to the District of Columbia courts, providing chief judges of D.C. Superior Court and the Court of Appeals the authority to delay proceedings in the event of an emergency. The bill would also require the District’s Public Defender Service to provide liability insurance for officers and employees.
The bill would grant the chief judges for the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals the authority in tolling or delaying procedures in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency situation.
The authority provided in this bill would be subject to any laws and rules affecting criminal and juvenile proceedings, including pre-arrest, post-arrest, pretrial, trial, and post-trial procedures, as well as civil family, domestic violence, probate and tax proceedings. If the chief judge of the Superior Court is absent or disabled, the authority to exercise the laws provided in the bill may be provided to the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration.
H.R. 5367 would require the chief judge to consider the ability of the U.S. District of Columbia Government to investigate, litigate, and process defendants during and after the emergency situation, as well as the ability of the defense to prepare their defenses.
The authority provided in this bill may not toll or extend a time deadline for a period of more than 14 days, except if the chief judge determines that an emergency situation requires an additional extension.
The bill would require the chief judge to make all reasonable efforts to publicize the order, including, when possible, announcing the order on the D.C. Courts website, and requires the chief judge to send notice of the order to the relevant congressional committees.
Finally, the bill would direct the Public Defender Service to provide liability insurance for employees, members of the Board of Trustees, or officers for money damages arising out of any claim, proceeding, or case at law relating to services provided within bounds of that person’s office or employment.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates this bill would not have a significant impact on the federal budget.