Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/15/1995 01:09 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJUD - 03/15/95                                                               
 HB 153 - BONDS FOR JUDGES                                                   
 Number 350                                                                    
 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, General Counsel, Judicial Branch, Alaska Court             
 System, presented HB 153.  At the present time we have a 1959                 
 statute that provides that a district judge and magistrate shall              
 execute and file a surety bond, which the state will pay for.  The            
 purpose of the surety bond for government officials is to guarantee           
 that the judge or any other official will well and faithfully                 
 perform the duties of the office.  Unlike insurance, which only               
 provides coverage for negligent acts, the surety bond basically               
 protects the public in the event that a public official commits               
 intentional misconduct, as well as simple acts of negligence.  The            
 state law, written in 1959, required district judges and                      
 magistrates to provide a surety bond, but not Supreme Court                   
 Justices, or Superior Court Judges.  The court system discontinued            
 the practice of providing special bonds for these two classes of              
 judges about two decades ago, when the Division of Risk Management            
 and the Department of Administration began purchasing a blanket               
 bond to cover all state employees, including all judges, all                  
 legislators, all bureaucrats in all three branches.  At the present           
 time, Risk Management obtains a surety which provides about                   
 $20,000,000 worth of coverage per occurrence.  They have only had             
 one or two claims in the last 14 years, and those were for                    
 misconduct by state contractors, not for misconduct by state                  
 employees.  The premiums for this bond are very small, given the              
 coverage amounts, because of the lack of claims.  Because AS                  
 22.15.260 is obsolete, it does not reflect the way the state                  
 currently provides bonds for judges; HB 153 simply proposes its               
 repeal.  Some other statutes on the books date back to the same               
 subject for Executive Branch employees.  This bill does not touch             
 those, but they are handled basically the same way.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move HB 153, with a zero                
 fiscal note and individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection,            
 HB 153 was passed from committee.                                             

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