Having opined on a number of bills affecting civil procedure in the 2011 General Assembly Session Crossover is an excellent time to update people on the status. Links below under each bill number refer back to my posts addressing each topic. For the uninitiated I am using the Photosynthesis tool at Waldo Jaquith’s amazing public service project, Richmond Sunlight, to track legislation.
In the Virginia House of Delegates
HB1499 - Would have required landlords to store tenant’s property and the landlord’s expense upon eviction. This was a horrendously bad idea. I never managed to write a blog post about it. Failed in the Civil Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice committee on a 7-4 vote. The interested fact about this is that the subcommittee vote was actually recorded rather than allowing the bill to be killed without any accountability.
HB1590 - Increases the jurisdiction of General District Court civil cases. It is about time. Faster and less expensive litigation for slightly larger cases, means greater access to the civil justice system. Passed the House of Delegates. Fundamentally the same as SB774 that has passed the Senate.
HB1640 - This would have created a modified loser pays rule that only benefits Defendants. This bill was so bad it would have required pages of criticism. Luckily this bill was killed by inaction in the House Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee.
HB1787 - This bill would have created an automatic presumption about division of custody in child custody cases. All things considered, creating an automatic presumption is probably slightly better than the current system. Bill allowed to fail by inaction in the House Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee.
HB1807 - This bill would have fixed a procedural problem in child custody cases, would have lessened the workload of litigants, attorneys, and clerks, and would also have avoided procedural confusion. Left to die in the House Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee.
HB2199 - One of the more interesting civil justice bills of the session, this bill would have created a reverse privilege to protect journalists. Mired with procedural problems, the bill was allowed to wither in the House Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee.
HB2289 UPDATE - This bill increases the powers of HOA’s to sue residents in General District Court without extending similar rights to property owners. Good for HOAs, good for attorneys, bad for property owners. As an attorney and a property owner in an HOA I am opposed to this bill, but will still be collecting fees representing property owners who suddenly have far more to lose. Passed the House with cosmetic changes. Senate version SB1327 passed the Senate with identical cosmetic changes.
In the Virginia Senate
SB774 - See HB1590 above.
SB798 - The most interesting of the foreclosure bills for suggesting movement to a judicial foreclosure system, this was defeated in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
SB831 - This is the weaker of the Senate attempts to reign in the investigative powers of the Attorney General. This bill passed the Senate on an almost party line vote. Can you guess the Republican that crossed the aisle without looking? Recorded vote here.
SB851 - Fixes a procedural problem in civil cases by setting a standard to obtain preliminary relief. Necessary, and useful. Passed the Senate.
SB1314 - Sen McEachin’s overreaction to perceived problems with our current Attorney General. He quietly gave up this bill, and covered up his capitulation with procedural tactics. The LIS reports that this bill passed the Senate as part of another bill. Read my post, read the drafts of the bill and SB831, and the procedural voting history. This bill was abandoned by agreement in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
SB1327 - See HB2289 above.
Updates on passed legislation
I will take a look at some of the other civil justice legislation that survived crossover through the coming weeks.