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NO. 121. AN ACT RELATING TO THE CREATION OF A JUDICIAL BUREAU.

(H.437)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 4 V.S.A. § 22(b) and (d) are amended to read:

(b) The administrative judge may appoint and assign a member of the Vermont bar residing within the territorial unit to serve temporarily as:

(1) an acting judge in a district, family or superior court;

(2) an acting magistrate; or

(3) an acting hearing officer to hear cases involving traffic and civil ordinance violations in the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau. (d) The administrative judge may appoint and shall specially assign or direct assignment of an assistant judge with his or her consent who has served in that office for a minimum of two years within the county to serve temporarily as a hearing officer to hear cases involving traffic and civil ordinance violations in the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau.

Sec. 2. 4 V.S.A. § 113 is amended to read:

§ 113. JURISDICTION GENERALLY

Each superior court within the several counties shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction of all original civil actions, except those actions listed in section 437 of this title and those made cognizable by the environmental court, the family court, judicial bureau or the supreme court, and of such petitions as may by law be brought before the superior court; appellate jurisdiction of causes, civil and criminal, appealable to the court; and original jurisdiction, concurrent with the supreme court, of proceedings in certiorari, mandamus, prohibition, and quo warranto, and may render judgment thereon according to law. The superior court shall also have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and dispose of any requests to modify or enforce any orders in civil cases issued by the superior or district court other than orders relating to those actions listed in sections 437 and 454 of this title.

Sec. 3. 4 V.S.A. § 437 is amended to read:

§ 437. CIVIL JURISDICTION OF DISTRICT COURT

The district court shall have jurisdiction of the following actions:

(1) Appeals of *[traffic violations filed pursuant to chapter 24 of Title 23]* final decisions of the judicial bureau.

(2) DUI license suspension hearings filed pursuant to chapter 24 of Title 23.

(3) Extradition proceedings filed pursuant to chapter 159 of Title 13.

(4) Drug forfeiture proceedings under subchapter 2, chapter 84 of Title 18.

(5) Fish and wildlife forfeiture proceedings under chapter 109 of Title 10.

(6) Liquor forfeiture proceedings under chapter 19 of Title 7.

Sec. 4. 4 V.S.A. chapter 29 is added to read:

CHAPTER 29. JUDICIAL BUREAU

§ 1101. DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Bureau" means the judicial bureau.

(2) "Complaint" means a fish and wildlife complaint as provided in 10 V.S.A. § 4573, a traffic complaint as provided in 23 V.S.A. § 2303, and a municipal complaint as provided in 24 V.S.A. § 1977.

(3) "Violation" means a minor fish and wildlife violation as defined in 10 V.S.A.

§ 4572, a traffic violation as defined in 23 V.S.A. § 2302, and a civil ordinance violation as provided in 24 V.S.A. § 1974a.

§ 1102. JUDICIAL BUREAU; JURISDICTION

(a) A judicial bureau is created within the judicial branch under the supervision of the supreme court.

(b) The bureau shall have jurisdiction of the following matters:

(1) traffic violations alleged to have been committed on or after July 1, 1990; (2) civil ordinance violations alleged to have been committed on or after July 1, 1994;

(3) minor fish and wildlife violations alleged to have been committed on or after September 1, 1996;

(4) for violations of 7 V.S.A. § 1005(a), relating to possession of tobacco products by a person less than 18 years of age; and

(5) for violations of 7 V.S.A. § 1007, relating to furnishing tobacco products to a person under the age of 18 years.

(c) The bureau shall not have jurisdiction over municipal parking violations.

§ 1103. VENUE

Venue for violation hearings in the judicial bureau shall be in the unit of the district court where the violation is alleged to have occurred.

§ 1104. APPOINTMENT OF HEARING OFFICERS

The administrative judge shall appoint members of the Vermont bar to serve as hearing officers to hear cases. Hearing officers shall be subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct. At least one hearing officer shall reside in each territorial unit of the district court.

§ 1105. ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEFAULT

(a) A person who is charged with a violation shall have 20 days from the date the complaint is issued to admit or deny the allegations or to state that he or she does not contest the allegations in the complaint.

(b) A person who admits or does not contest the allegations may so indicate and sign the complaint. The bureau shall accept the admission or statement that the allegations are not contested and accept payment of the penalty.

(c) If the person sends in the amount of the penalty without signing the complaint, the bureau shall accept the payment indicating that payment was made and that the allegations were not contested.

(d) A person who denies the allegations may so indicate and sign the complaint. Upon receipt, the bureau shall schedule a hearing.

(e) If a person fails to appear or answer a complaint the bureau shall enter a default judgment against the person. The bureau shall mail a notice to the person that a default judgment has been entered. A default judgment may be set aside by the hearing officer for good cause shown.

§ 1106. HEARING

(a) The bureau shall notify the person charged and the issuing officer of the time and place for the hearing.

(b) The hearing shall be held before a hearing officer and conducted in an impartial manner. The hearing officer may, by subpoena, compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and records. All witnesses shall be sworn. The burden of proof shall be on the state or municipality to prove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence. As used in this section, Aclear and convincing evidence@ means evidence which establishes that the truth of the facts asserted is highly probable. Certified copies of records supplied by the department of motor vehicles and presented by the issuing officer or other person shall be admissible without testimony by a representative of the department of motor vehicles.

(c) The hearing officer shall make findings which shall be stated on the record or, if more time is needed, made in writing at a later date. The hearing officer may make a finding that the person has committed a lesser included violation.

(d) With approval of his or her supervisor, a law enforcement officer may void or amend a complaint issued by that officer by so marking the complaint and returning it to the bureau. At the hearing, a law enforcement officer may void or amend a complaint issued by that officer, subject to the approval of the hearing officer.

(e) A state's attorney may dismiss or amend a complaint.

(f) The supreme court shall establish rules for the conduct of hearings under this chapter.

§ 1107. APPEALS

(a) A decision of the hearing officer may be appealed to the district court. The proceeding before the district court shall be on the record, or at the option of the defendant, de novo. The defendant shall have the right to trial by jury. An appeal shall stay payment of a penalty but not the imposition of points.

(b) If a decision is appealed, the state's attorney of the county in which the violation occurred shall represent the state and the state's attorney, grand juror or municipalattorney shall represent the municipality.

(c) No appeal as of right exists to the supreme court. On motion made to the supreme court by a party, the supreme court may allow an appeal to be taken to it from the district court.

§ 1108. CIVIL ORDINANCE AND TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS; JURISDICTION

OF ASSISTANT JUDGES IN ESSEX COUNTY

(a) Subject to the limits of this section and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, an assistant judge of Essex County sitting alone shall have the same jurisdiction, powers and duties to hear and decide civil ordinance and traffic violations as a hearing officer has under the provisions of this chapter.

(b) Jurisdiction and venue of civil ordinance and traffic violations heard by an assistant judge shall be in the superior court in the county in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.

(c) An assistant judge who elects to hear and decide civil ordinance and traffic violations shall have successfully completed at least 40 hours of training which shall be provided by the bureau. Training shall be paid for by the county, which expenditure is hereby authorized. Law clerk assistance shall be available to the assistant judges.

(d) An assistant judge who elects to hear and decide civil ordinance and traffic violations or who elects to cease hearing these matters, shall cause the court clerk to notify the bureau and each municipality in the assistant judge's county of the judge's decision. Upon receipt of notification that an assistant judge elects to hear these matters, exclusive jurisdiction vests with the superior court and every complaint alleging a civil ordinance and traffic violation in that judge's county which is denied, or which requires a hearing, shall be set for hearing before the superior court in the assistant judge's county.

(e) If both assistant judges elect to hear civil ordinance and traffic violations, the senior assistant judge shall make the assignment of cases to be heard by each assistant judge.

(f) If both assistant judges do not elect to hear civil ordinance and traffic violations or elect to cease to hear these matters, civil ordinance and traffic violations in the county shall be heard in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

(g) An assistant judge may decline to hear a particular civil ordinance or traffic violation, in which case the violation shall be heard by a hearing officer of the bureau.

(h) An appeal from a decision of an assistant judge shall be in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

(i) Civil ordinance and traffic violations that are heard by an assistant judge in Essex County shall be heard in Essex County and shall not be heard at or transferred to any other location.

Sec. 5. 10 V.S.A. § 4572(b) is amended to read:

(b) "Bureau" means the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau as *[provided for in 23 V.S.A. § 2301]* created in 4 V.S.A. § 1102.

Sec. 6. 10 V.S.A. § 4573(c) is amended to read:

(c) The complaint shall contain an explanation of rights and instructions on answering the allegations. The complaint shall also contain, in boldface print, the following:

(1) IF YOU ADMIT TO A VIOLATION OF THE FISH AND *[GAME]* WILDLIFE LAWS OR IF YOU DO NOT CONTEST THE ALLEGATIONS, SIGN THE COMPLAINT ADMITTING THE VIOLATION OR STATING THAT THE ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT CONTESTED AND SEND IT TO THE *[TRAFFIC AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(2) IF YOU WANT TO DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THIS COMPLAINT, YOU MUST SEND A SIGNED DENIAL TO THE *[TRAFFIC AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(3) IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER THIS COMPLAINT WITHIN 20 DAYS A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WILL BE ENTERED. THE IMPOSITION OF POINTS OR FAILURE TO PAY THE PENALTY ASSESSED MAY RESULT IN SUSPENSION OF YOUR LICENSE.

(4) IF YOU ADMIT OR DO NOT CONTEST OR DO NOT ANSWER, YOU WILL BE LIABLE TO THE STATE OF VERMONT FOR THE AMOUNT INDICATED IN THE COMPLAINT, YOU WILL RECEIVE POINTS, AND YOUR LICENSE MAY ALSO BE SUSPENDED.

Sec. 7. 10 V.S.A. § 4574 is amended to read:

§ 4574. PROCEDURE

Minor fish and *[game]* wildlife violations shall be heard by the bureau and the procedure shall be *[the same as it is for a traffic violation under 23 V.S.A. §§ 2304-2306]* as provided in chapter 29 of Title 4.

Sec. 8. 10 V.S.A. § 4575 is amended to read:

§ 4575. SUSPENSION FOR FAILURE TO PAY

In the case of failure to pay a penalty, the *[traffic]* judicial bureau shall mail a notice to the defendant at the address in the complaint notifying the defendant that failure to pay or otherwise satisfy the penalty within 20 days of the notice will result in suspension of the person's fish and *[game]* wildlife license until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the commissioner of fish and wildlife, who, after 20 days from the date of notice, shall suspend the person's fish and wildlife license until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied.

Sec. 9. 23 V.S.A. § 1216(a) is amended to read:

(a) A person under the age of 18 who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway when the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more, commits a civil traffic violation subject to the jurisdiction of the *[traffic]* judicial bureau and subject to the following sanctions:

(1) For a first violation, the person's license or privilege to operate shall be suspended until the person completes an alcohol and driving education program at the person's own expense.

(2) For a second or subsequent violation, the person's license or privilege to operate shall be suspended until the person has submitted to an alcohol assessment screening to determine whether reinstatement should be conditioned on satisfactory completion of a therapy program agreed to by the person and the driver rehabilitation program director, and if therapy is indicated, the person has completed or shown substantial progress in completing such a therapy program at the person's own expense.

Sec. 10. 23 V.S.A. § 2302 is amended to read:

§ 2302. TRAFFIC VIOLATION DEFINED

(a) As used in this chapter, "traffic violation" means

(2) any traffic complaint with a maximum penalty set at not more than $1,000.00 and for which no term of imprisonment is provided by law;

(3) any traffic violation with a scheduled penalty of not more than $1,000.00 established pursuant to subsection (d) of this section and for which no term of imprisonment is provided by law;

(b) A traffic violation is not a crime and shall be treated as a civil action.

(c) A violation of a traffic law in this title for which no penalty is otherwise provided shall be subject to a penalty of not more than *[$175.00]* $1,000.00.

(d) *[Whenever]* For any traffic violation for which no term of imprisonment is provided by law, for which the minimum penalty is less than $1,000.00, or for which a penalty *[for a traffic violation]* is not otherwise established, three district court judges appointed by the court administrator shall establish a schedule, within the limits prescribed by law, of the penalty to be imposed. Any police officer who issues a complaint shall advise the defendant of the schedule of penalties and show the defendant a copy thereof.

Sec. 11. 23 V.S.A. § 2303 is amended to read:

§ 2303. SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

(a) In all traffic cases the summons and complaint shall be in a form prescribed by the supreme court and known as the "Traffic Complaint."

(b) The complaint shall be signed by the issuing officer or by the state's attorney. The original shall be filed with the bureau, a copy shall be retained by the issuing officer or state's attorney and two copies shall be given to the defendant.

(c) The complaint shall contain an explanation of rights and instructions on answering the allegations. The complaint shall also contain, in boldface print, the following:

(1) IF YOU ADMIT TO A VIOLATION OF THE TRAFFIC LAWS OR IF YOU DO NOT CONTEST THE ALLEGATIONS, SIGN THE COMPLAINT ADMITTING THE VIOLATION OR STATING THAT THE ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT CONTESTED AND SEND IT TO THE *[TRAFFIC]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(2) IF YOU WANT TO DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THIS COMPLAINT, YOU MUST SEND A SIGNED DENIAL TO THE *[TRAFFIC]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(3) IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER THIS COMPLAINT WITHIN 20 DAYS A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WILL BE ENTERED. THE IMPOSITION OF POINTS OR FAILURE TO PAY THE PENALTY ASSESSED MAY RESULT IN SUSPENSION OF YOUR LICENSE OR PRIVILEGE TO OPERATE.

(4) IF YOU ADMIT OR DO NOT CONTEST OR DO NOT ANSWER, YOU WILL BE LIABLE TO THE STATE OF VERMONT FOR THE AMOUNT INDICATED IN THE COMPLAINT AND YOUR LICENSE OR PRIVILEGE TO OPERATE MAY ALSO BE SUSPENDED.

Sec. 12. 23 V.S.A. § 2305 is amended to read:

§ 2305. *[HEARING]* PROCEDURE

Traffic violations shall be heard by the judicial bureau and the procedure shall be as provided in chapter 29 of Title 4.

Sec. 13. 23 V.S.A. § 2307 is amended to read:

§ 2307. SUSPENSION FOR FAILURE TO PAY

In the case of failure to pay a penalty, the *[traffic]* judicial bureau shall mail a notice to the defendant at the address in the complaint notifying the defendant that failure to pay or otherwise satisfy the penalty within 20 days of the notice will result in suspension of the person's operator's license or privilege to operate until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the commissioner of motor vehicles who, after 20 days from the date of notice, shall suspend the person's operator's license or privilege to operate until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied.

Sec. 14. 23 V.S.A. § 2309 is added to read:

§ 2309. VIOLATION REPORT; ASSESSMENT OF POINTS

The bureau shall send a report of each finding of a traffic violation to the commissioner of motor vehicles. Such a finding shall be prima facie evidence of a violation and shall result in assessment of points and suspension or revocation of the person's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle.

Sec. 15. 23 V.S.A. § 2500 is amended to read:

§ 2500. APPLICATION TO TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to traffic violations covered under chapter 24 of this title and for that purpose a determination by the *[traffic]* judicial bureau that a person has committed a traffic violation, whether by admission, no contest, determination after hearing, or entry of a default judgment, shall be deemed a conviction under this chapter.

Sec. 16. 24 V.S.A. § 71a(a) is amended to read:

(a) Except as provided herein, each county shall provide and own a suitable courthouse, pay all utility and custodial services and keep such courthouse suitably furnished and equipped for use by the superior court and probate court, together with suitable offices for the county clerk, assistant judges and probate judges. Office space for the probate court may be provided elsewhere by the county. Each county shall provide fireproof safes or vaults for the safekeeping of the official files and records required to be kept by county officials, including the files and records of a justice of the peace who has vacated his or her office. Use of the county courthouse by the supreme court, districtcourt, family court or the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau may be permitted by the assistant judges when such use does not conflict with the use of the building by the superior court, provided that the office of court administrator shall pay the cost of any such use should the assistant judges choose not to pay the cost by use of county funds.

Sec. 17. 24 V.S.A. § 1974a is amended to read:

§ 1974a. ENFORCEMENT OF CIVIL ORDINANCE VIOLATIONS

(a) A civil penalty of not more than $500.00 may be imposed for a violation of a civil ordinance. Each day the violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.

(b) All civil ordinance violations, except municipal parking violations, and all continuing civil ordinance violations, where the penalty is $500.00 or less, shall be brought before the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau pursuant to *[chapter 24 of]* Title *[23]* 4 and this chapter. If the penalty for all continuing civil ordinance violations is greater than $500.00, or injunctive relief, other than as provided in subsection (c) of this section, is sought, the action shall be brought in superior court.

(c) The *[municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau *[hearing officer]*, on application of a municipality, may order that a civil ordinance violation cease.

(d) Civil enforcement of municipal zoning violations may be brought as a civil ordinance violation pursuant to this section or in an enforcement action pursuant to the requirements of chapter 117 of this title.

Sec. 18. 24 V.S.A. § 1977 is amended to read:

§ 1977. COMPLAINT FOR MUNICIPAL CIVIL ORDINANCE VIOLATIONS

(a) In all municipal civil cases before the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau, the summons and complaint shall be a form prescribed by the supreme court and known as the "*[civil ordinance]* municipal complaint."

(b) The complaint shall be signed by the issuing municipal official. The original copy shall be filed with the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau, a copy shall be retained by the issuing municipal official and two copies shall be given to the defendant.

(c) The municipal official may void or amend the municipal complaint issued by that official by so marking the complaint and sending it to the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]*judicial bureau.

(d) The complaint shall contain a description of the ordinance allegedly violated, the allegations, the amount of the penalty and an explanation of rights and instructions on answering the allegations. The complaint shall also contain, in boldface print, the following:

(1) IF YOU ADMIT TO A VIOLATION OF THE ORDINANCE OF THE TOWN/CITY/VILLAGE OF OR IF YOU DO NOT CONTEST THE ALLEGATIONS, SIGN THE COMPLAINT ADMITTING THE VIOLATION OR STATING THAT THE ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT CONTESTED AND SEND IT TO THE *[TRAFFIC AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(2) If YOU WANT TO DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THIS COMPLAINT, YOU MUST SEND A SIGNED DENIAL TO THE *[TRAFFIC AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE]* JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS.

(3) IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER THIS COMPLAINT WITHIN 20 DAYS, A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WILL BE ENTERED. THE FAILURE TO PAY THE PENALTY ASSESSED WILL RESULT IN FURTHER LEGAL ACTION AGAINST YOU.

(4) IF YOU ADMIT OR DO NOT CONTEST OR DO NOT ANSWER, YOU WILL BE LIABLE FOR THE AMOUNT INDICATED IN THE COMPLAINT.

Sec. 19. 24 V.S.A. § 1979 is amended to read:

§ 1979. *[HEARING]* PROCEDURE

(a) Municipal ordinance violations shall be heard by the bureau and the procedure shall be as provided in chapter 29 of Title 4.

(b) At the hearing, the municipal attorney, grand juror or designee of the legislative body of the municipality may dismiss or amend the complaint, subject to the approval of the hearing officer.

Sec. 20. 24 V.S.A. § 1981 is amended to read:

§ 1981. ENFORCEMENT OF ORDER FROM *[TRAFFIC AND MUNICIPAL]*

(a) Upon entry of a *[violation]* judgment after hearing or entry of *[a]* default *[judgment]* by the hearing officer, subject to any appeal pursuant to section 1980 of this title, the person found in violation shall have up to *[20]* 30 days to pay the penalty to the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau. *[If the penalty is not paid, the bureau shall forward the order to the municipality.]* All the civil remedies for collection of judgments shall be available to enforce the *[order]* final judgment of the *[traffic and municipal]* judicial bureau.

(b) In addition to any other civil remedies available by law, a final judgment of the judicial bureau that has not been satisfied within 30 days shall, upon due recordation in the land records of the town in which any real or personal property of the defendant is located, constitute a lien upon that real or personal property, except for motor vehicles asdefined by 23 V.S.A. § 4(21), and may be enforced within the time and in the manner provided for the collection of taxes pursuant to subchapter 8, chapter 133 of Title 32.

(c) The supreme court shall establish rules which provide for an expedited process in small claims court for the collection of judgments to enforce the orders of the judicial bureau.

(d) Upon motion of the municipal attorney, grand juror or other person designated by the legislative body of the municipality and proof by affidavit that the person found in violation has not paid the penalty, the bureau shall send to the person found in violation a notice that the penalty must be paid within 20 days of receipt of notice. The notice shall include a warning that failure to pay the penalty within 20 days of the notice will result in a proceeding for contempt before the district court.

(e) If the penalty is not paid within the 20 days, the bureau shall send a notice to the district court in the territorial unit where the person resides. The clerk of the district court shall forthwith provide notice to the person of a hearing for civil contempt proceedings pursuant to 12 V.S.A. § 122 for the failure to pay the penalty imposed by the bureau.

Sec. 21. 24 V.S.A. § 1982 is amended to read:

§ 1982. REPORTS

The court administrator shall prepare audits, records and reports relating to the enforcement of municipal ordinance complaints in the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]*

judicial bureau.

Sec. 22. 32 V.S.A. § 1431(f) is amended to read:

(f) The filing fee for all actions filed in the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau shall be $10.00; the state or municipality shall not be required to pay the fee; however, if the respondent denies the allegations on the ticket, the fee shall be taxed in the bill of costs in accordance with sections 1433 and 1471 of this title.

Sec. 23. 32 V.S.A. § 1436(b) is amended to read:

(b) Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, fees collected as a result of this section shall be in lieu of any payments by the state to the county for the use of the county courthouse by the supreme, district, family and environmental courts or by the *[traffic andmunicipal ordinance]* judicial bureau.

Sec. 24. 32 V.S.A. § 1471(a) is amended to read:

(a) There shall be taxed in the bill of costs to the recovering party in the supreme, superior , family, district, or environmental courts or the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau a fee equal to the entry fees, the cost of service fees incurred and the total amount of the certificate of witness fees paid.

Sec. 25. 32 V.S.A. § 1751(b) is amended to read:

(b) Whenever probate, district, environmental, family or superior court officers and employees or officers and employees of the *[Vermont traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau furnish copies or certified copies of records, the following fees shall be collected for the benefit of the state:

(1) The sum of sixty cents a folio with a minimum fee of $1.00 when a copy is reproduced by typewriter or hand;

(2) The sum of twenty-five cents a page with a minimum fee of $1.00 when a copy is reproduced photographically;

(3) For each official certificate, $5.00; however, one conformed copy of any document issued by a court shall be furnished without charge to a party of record to the action;

(4) For the authentication of documents, $5.00.

However, the fees provided for in this subsection shall not be assessed by these officers and employees in furnishing copies or certified copies of records to any state agency or to veterans honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States, their dependents or beneficiaries, in the prosecution of any claim for benefits from the United States government, or any state agency.

Sec. 26. 7 V.S.A. § 1005(a) is amended to read:

(a) A person less than 18 years of age shall not possess or purchase tobacco products unless the person is an employee of a holder of a tobacco license and is in possession of tobacco products to effect a sale in the course of employment. A person less than 18 years of age shall not misrepresent his or her age to purchase tobacco products. A personwho possesses tobacco products in violation of this subsection shall be subject to having the tobacco products immediately confiscated and shall be further subject to a civil penalty of $25.00. In the case of failure to pay a penalty, the *[traffic and municipal ordinance ]*judicial bureau shall mail a notice to the person at the address in the complaint notifying the person that failure to pay the penalty within 60 days of the notice will result in either the suspension of the person's operator's license for a period of not more than 90 days or delay the initial licensing of the person for a period of not more than one year. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the commissioner of motor vehicles, who after expiration of 60 days from the date of notice and unless notified by the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau that the penalty has been paid, shall either suspend the person's operator's license or cause initial licensing of the person to be delayed for the periods set forth in this subsection and the rules. An action under this subsection shall be brought in the same manner as a traffic violation pursuant to chapter 24 of Title 23. The commissioner of motor vehicles shall adopt rules in accordance with the provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3 to implement the provisions of this subsection, which may provide for incremental suspension or delays not exceeding cumulatively the maximum periods established by this subsection.

Sec. 27. 23 V.S.A. § 1216(a) is amended to read:

(a) A person under the age of 21 who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway when the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more, commits a civil traffic violation subject to the jurisdiction of the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau and subject to the following sanctions:

(1) For a first violation, the person's license or privilege to operate shall be suspended for six months and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.

(2) For a second or subsequent violation, the person's license or privilege to operate shall be suspended until the person reaches the age of 21 or for one year, whichever is longer, and complies with section 1209a of this title.

Sec. 28. 23 V.S.A. § 3207f(a) is amended to read:

(a) A person under the age of 21 who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of a snowmobile on any lands, waters or public highways of this state when the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more, commits a civil traffic violation subject to the jurisdiction of the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau and subject to the following sanctions:

(1) For a first violation, the person's privilege to operate a snowmobile on any lands, waters or public highways of this state shall be suspended for six months and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.

(2) For a second or subsequent violation, the person's privilege to operate a snowmobile on any lands, waters or public highways of this state shall be suspended until the person reaches the age of 21 or for one year, whichever is longer, and complies with section 1209a of this title.

Sec. 29. 23 V.S.A. § 3323a(a) is amended to read:

(a) A person under the age of 21 who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state when the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more, commits a civil traffic violation subject to the jurisdiction of the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau and subject to the following sanctions:

(1) For a first violation, the person's privilege to operate a vessel, except a nonmotorized canoe and a nonmotorized rowboat, on the waters of this state shall be suspended for six months and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.

(2) For a second or subsequent violation, the person's privilege to operate a vessel, except a nonmotorized canoe and a nonmotorized rowboat, on the waters of this state shall be suspended until the person reaches the age of 21 or for one year, whichever is longer, and complies with section 1209a of this title.

Sec. 30. GENERAL AMENDMENT

Wherever they appear in the Vermont Statutes Annotated, the words "traffic and municipal ordinance bureau" are amended to read "judicial bureau".

Sec. 31. 12 V.S.A. § 5540 is amended to read:

§ 5540. JURISDICTION OVER SMALL CLAIMS; ASSISTANT JUDGES; ESSEX

*[COUNTY]*, CALEDONIA AND RUTLAND COUNTIES

(a) Subject to the limitations in this section and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, assistant judges of Essex *[county]*, Caledonia and Rutland counties sitting alone, may elect to hear and decide small claims actions filed under this chapter with the Essex *[circuit of the Vermont district court]*, Caledonia and Rutland superior courts.

(b) *[An assistant judge who elects to hear cases under this section shall have completed at least 40 hours of relevant training, which may include attendance at colleges or classes available in various locations in and outside the state to lay judges. Training shall be paid for by the county, which expenditure is hereby authorized. Law clerk assistance available to superior court judges shall be available to the assistant judges.]* With the exception of the assistant judges that were authorized to preside in small claims matters prior to the effective date of this act or July 1, 1998, whichever is later, an assistant judge hearing cases under this section shall have completed at least 60 hours of relevant training and observed 20 hours of small claims hearings in accordance with the protocol for said training and observation which shall be established by a majority of the assistant judges of the state, which may include attendance at colleges or classes available in various locations in and outside the state to lay judges. Training shall be paid for on a per capita basis of those judges electing to take the training by the county, which expenditure is hereby authorized. Law clerk assistance available to superior court judges shall be available to the assistant judges.

(c) *[Jurisdiction and venue of small claims actions heard under this section shall be in the Essex superior court. Small claims actions and counterclaims shall continue to be filed with the district court clerk and once the file is ready for hearing, it shall be transferred to the Essex superior court, which shall then set the matter for hearing. A decision of an assistant judge shall be entered as a small claims judgment by the Vermont district court and may be appealed pursuant to section 5538 of this title. The appeal shall be decided by the presiding judge and an assistant judge who did not participate as the trial judge.]* Adecision of an assistant judge shall be entered as a small claims judgment and may be appealed pursuant to section 5538 of this title. The appeal shall be decided by the presiding judge.

(d) An assistant judge who elects to hear and decide small claims cases or who elects to cease hearing these matters, shall cause the superior court clerk to notify the court administrator and the Essex *[circuit district]*, Caledonia and Rutland superior court *[clerk]* clerks of the judge's decision. Upon receipt of notification that an assistant judge elects to hear these matters*[, exclusive jurisdiction vests with the superior court]* and every small claims case which requires a hearing shall be set for hearing before an assistant judge in the superior court in the county. If the assistant judge is unavailable due to illness, disability or disqualification, the administrative judge pursuant to section 22 of Title 4 may assign a judge, or appoint and assign a member of the Vermont bar to serve temporarily as an acting judge, to hear small claims cases in the county where the cause of action was filed. No action filed or pending shall be heard at or transferred to any other location unless agreed to by the parties. If both assistant judges of the county elect to hear these matters, the senior assistant judge shall make the assignment of cases to be heard by each assistant judge. *[If both assistant judges of the county do not elect to hear these matters or elect to cease to hear these matters, the jurisdiction and venue shall be with the Essex circuit of Vermont district court.]* The assistant judges, once qualified to preside in these matters, shall work with the court administrator's office and the administrative judge such that the scheduling of small claims cases before the assistant judges are at such times as to permit adequate current court personnel to be available when these cases are to be heard.

Sec. 32. 12 V.S.A. § 5540a is amended to read:

§ 5540a. JURISDICTION OVER SMALL CLAIMS; ASSISTANT JUDGES;

*[CALEDONIA AND RUTLAND]* ADDISON, BENNINGTON,

CHITTENDEN, FRANKLIN, GRAND ISLE, LAMOILLE, ORANGE,

ORLEANS, WASHINGTON, WINDHAM AND WINDSOR COUNTIES

(a) Subject to the limitations in this section and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, assistant judges of *[Caledonia and Rutland]* Addison, Bennington,Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties sitting alone, shall hear and decide small claims actions filed under this chapter with the *[Caledonia or Rutland]* appropriate superior court if the assistant judges first elect to successfully complete the training required in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) An assistant judge hearing cases under this section shall have completed at least *[40]* 60 hours of relevant training and observed 20 hours of small claims hearings in accordance with the protocol for said training and observation which shall be established by a majority of the assistant judges of the state, which may include attendance at colleges or classes available in various locations in and outside the state to lay judges. Training shall be paid for on a per capita basis of those judges electing to take the training by the *[supreme court]* county, which expenditure is hereby authorized. Law clerk assistance available to superior court judges shall be available to the assistant judges.

(c) A decision of an assistant judge shall be entered as a small claims judgment and may be appealed pursuant to section 5538 of this title. The appeal shall be decided by the presiding judge.

(d) An assistant judge upon successful completion of the training under subsection (b) of this section, shall cause the superior court clerk to notify the court administrator of the assistant judge's successful completion of training. Upon receipt of such notification, small claims cases which require a hearing shall first be set for hearing before an assistant judge in the superior court in the county and shall be heard by the assistant judge. If the assistant judge is unavailable due to illness, vacation, administrative leave, disability or disqualification, the administrative judge pursuant to section 22 of Title 4 may assign a judge, or appoint and assign a member of the Vermont bar to serve temporarily as an acting judge, to hear small claims cases in *[Rutland]* *[and Caledonia]* Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties. No action filed or pending shall be heard at or transferred to any other location unless agreed to by the parties. If both assistant judges of the county elect to successfully complete training to hear these matters, the senior assistant judge shall make the assignment of cases to be heard by each assistant judge. The assistant judges, oncequalified to preside in these matters, shall work with the court administrator's office and the administrative judge such that the scheduling of small claims cases before the assistant judges are at such times as to permit adequate current court personnel to be available when these cases are heard.

(e) This section shall be repealed effective on July 1, *[1998]* 2001. The assistant judges who have elected to hear small claims cases under this section shall report to the house and senate judiciary committees with their findings and recommendations concerning their activities under this section on or before January 15, *[1998]* 2001.

Sec. 33. REPORTS

(a) Not later than January 15, 1999, the court administrator and the executive director of the Vermont criminal justice training council shall jointly submit a report on the implementation of No. 44 of the Acts of 1997 to the Senate and House Committees on Judiciary. The report shall address the following:

(1) The steps that were taken to implement the act;

(2) The number of judicial officers who already had fax capability, the number who were supplied with fax capability and the costs incurred thereby;

(3) Any problems incurred in implementing the act as perceived by law enforcement personnel, judicial officers, court system administrators, and attorneys for the state and defense;

(4) The number of search warrants issued by fax since the effective date of the act and the percentage of that number to the total number of search warrants issued during the same period of time;

(5) The location of all persons involved with the warrant at the time the warrant was issued, including the person who requested the warrant, the affiant, any witnesses and the judicial officer;

(6) Copies of any trial court or supreme court decisions, orders, rules, amendments or proposals involving Rule 41(h) of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure;

(7) Any changes in technology that would apply to the electronic issuance of search warrants;

(8) Recommended changes to Rule 41(h); and

(9) Estimated time saved and costs avoided by participants who obtained warrants by fax.

(b) Not later than January 15, 2000, the court administrator and the executive director of the criminal justice training council shall report to the Senate and House Committees on Judiciary on the feasibility of using electronic mail for the issuance of search warrants.

Sec. 34. Sec. 4 of No. 44 of the Acts of 1997 is amended to read:

Sec. 4. SUNSET

This act shall sunset on *[December 31, 2000]* December 31, 2002.

Sec. 35. COMMISSION TO STUDY APPOINTMENT OF ACTING JUDGES AND

ASSIGNMENT OF SUPERIOR AND DISTRICT COURT JUDGES

(a) The administrative judge for trial courts shall review the qualifications and use of acting judges in the courts in this state, including the following issues:

(1) Should a lawyer who is found "not qualified" by the judicial nominating board to be a district or superior court judge serve as an acting judge?

(2) Whether superior and district court judges are being assigned to sit in courts in which they have little or no experience.

(3) Whether there is an inconsistency between 4 V.S.A. § 22 and A.O. 13.

(4) Whether the Judicial Nominating Board should be authorized to disclose to the administrative judge whether a person interested in serving as an acting judge has been found "qualified" or "not qualified" by the Judicial Nominating Board, and whether a determination of "not qualified" should bar serving as an acting judge.

(b) On or before January 15, 1999, the administrative judge for trial courts shall file a report containing his findings and recommendations with the General Assembly and the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary.

Sec. 36. 4 V.S.A. § 26 is amended to read:

§ 26. HALF-TIME JUDGES

Of the superior and district judge positions authorized by this title, up to two may be shared, each by two half-time judges. Of the magistrate positions authorized by this title,one may be shared by two half-time magistrates. Of the hearing officer positions authorized by Title 23, one may be shared by two half-time hearing officers. Half-time superior and district judges, magistrates and hearing officers shall be paid proportionally and shall receive the same benefits as state employees who share a job. Half-time judges, magistrates and hearing officers shall not engage in the active practice of law for remuneration.

Sec. 37. 12 V.S.A. § 5856 is added to read:

§ 5856. STORAGE OF JUDICIAL OATHS

The Vermont supreme court shall adopt a rule which establishes a procedure for the storage of judicial oaths.

Sec. 38. CONCILIATION OF STATUTES

The amendments to 24 V.S.A. § 1981 contained in this act shall supersede those contained in S.202 enacted by this general assembly.

Sec. 39. REPEAL

The following sections are repealed:

(1) 23 V.S.A. § 1707 (general penalty for violations);

(2) 23 V.S.A. § 2301 (creation of bureau);

(3) 23 V.S.A. § 2301a (jurisdiction of assistant judges in Essex County);

(4) 23 V.S.A. § 2304 (answer and default);

(5) 23 V.S.A. § 2306 (appeals);

(6) 24 V.S.A. § 1978 (answer to municipal complaint; default);

(7) 24 V.S.A. § 1980 (civil ordinance violation appeals).

Approved: April 27, 1998