Judiciary/Courts

 

CHILD CUSTODY & SUPPORT

SB 1237 (Smith/Steidley): Creates the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which replaces the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. The new act combines rules for taking jurisdiction over child custody disputes with rules for enforcing child custody and visitation orders issued by courts of another state. Also, the bill provides for a motion for enforcement of visitation rights which may be filed by a non custodial parent who has been granted visitation rights and whose rights are denied or otherwise interfered with by the custodial parent. Upon the filing of a motion for enforcement of visitation rights, the court must issue ex parte an order for mediation, or set a hearing on the motion to occur not more than 21 days after the filing of the motion.

SB 1249 (Smith/Steidley): Prohibits the court from appointing counsel to represent a grandparent of a minor unless the grandparent is the duly appointed guardian of the minor or the court finds that the grandparent is functioning as the guardian of the minor or that the appointment of counsel for the grandparent is in the best interest of the child.

SB 1261 (Smith/Hastings): Limits application of statute which requires a person seeking custody of a child to provide an Oklahoma criminal history record to the court. The bill exempts a person seeking custody of a child in a paternity or domestic relations case from compliance with the statute unless otherwise ordered by the court. Also, the bill exempts juvenile records relating to violations of the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Act from the confidentiality requirements of the Oklahoma Juvenile Code.

SB 1342 (Cain/Blackburn): Amends statutes relating to child support as requested by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Human Services. The bill authorizes the state Medicaid and child support programs to require that a child be enrolled in a parent's insurance plan and to allow the parent's employer to deduct the cost of the insurance from the parent's wages. Visitation and custody issues are required to be dealt with in the district court rather than the administrative court. New forms are prescribed in order to meet federal requirements. Also, a simplified administrative process will become effective upon the implementation of the Central Payment registry.

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE

SB 1223 (Taylor/Toure): Creates the District Court Mediation Act which allows the district court to refer any civil case, including any domestic relations case, or any portion of a case to mediation. The bill provides a form to be used to order mediation pursuant to the act and allows a referral to mediation to be made at any time while a civil case is pending. The district court may maintain a list of qualified mediators which meet the following requirements:

Civil and Commercial Mediators must:
  1. be certified pursuant to the Dispute Resolution Act; or

  2. complete at least 24 hours of mediation approved by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission of the Oklahoma Bar Association, observe at least 2 mediation proceedings, and complete at least 6 hours every other year of continuing professional education in the area of mediation as approved by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission of the Oklahoma Bar Association.

Divorce and Family Mediators must:

  1. be certified for family and divorce mediation pursuant to the Dispute Resolution Act; or

  2. complete 40 hours of training in family and divorce mediation approved by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission of the Oklahoma Bar Association, conduct at least 12 hours of mediation with 3 separate families, and complete at least 6 hours every other year of continuing professional education in the area of family mediation, or

  3. have been regularly engaged in the practice of family and divorce mediation for a least 4 years.

Parties who agree to mediate must participate in good faith and with the intent to settle as many issues as possible. The bill requires mediation sessions to be private and allows non-parties to attend mediation only with the consent of the parties. All communications relating to the subject matter of the dispute made during the mediation process by a party or any other person present at the mediation are considered to be confidential communications and are not admissible as evidence or subject to discovery unless the fact disclosed is independently discoverable.

HB 3155 (Henry/Toure): Limits expense for taking and transcribing deposition testimony to $4.00 per page. Procedures for perfection of appeals are amended to require that a petition for review of a judgment or final order must be filed in the district court of the county where the inferior tribunal, board, or officer rendered the order within 30 days of the date that a copy of the judgment or final order is mailed to the appellant. Under the bill, a subpoena that commands production of documents and things or inspection of premises from a nonparty before trial but does not require attendance of a witness must specify a date for production or inspection that is at least 7 days after the date that the subpoena is served on the witness and all parties. The subpoena must include language advising the witness not to produce the requested items until the date specified in the subpoena, and if an objection is filed, not until the court rules on the objection.

 

COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS LAW

SB 1091 (Henry/Toure): Authorizes credit card issuers based in Oklahoma to charge the same fees and charges as credit card issuers in other states. However, the bill does prohibit a lender or seller credit card or similar arrangement from contracting for or receiving a penalty, charge, annual fee, or similar fee or charge because of full payment of a revolving loan account balance by the credit card holder within a billing cycle. Also, the bill limits the amount of any late fee that cable television operators may impose on their customers.

SB 1108 (Wright/Adkins): Amends the Credit Services Organization Act to exclude from the definition of "credit services organization" insurance companies and their affiliates and subsidiaries which are authorized to do business in Oklahoma by the Insurance Commissioner, including insurance agents licensed in Oklahoma.

SB 1300 (Hendrick/Hastings): Amends the Oklahoma General Corporation Act to parallel the Delaware General Corporation Law on which the act was based. Implementation of the Delaware changes keeps the act current in the business environment and retains Delaware case law for guidance and predictability in business affairs. The bill amends statutes relating to: certificates of incorporation; registered agents; board of directors; indemnification of directors and officers; classes and series of stock; dividends; meetings of shareholders; voting rights; voting trusts; mergers and consolidations; business combinations; appraisal rights; dissolution; notice to claimants and filing of claims; and liability of shareholders. SB 1300 also includes amendments to the Limited Liability Company Act, the Oklahoma Revised Uniform Partnership Act, the Oklahoma Uniform Limited Partnership Act, the Oklahoma Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act, the Uniform Management of Institutional Endowment Funds Act, and the Revised Uniform Principle and Income Act.

SB 1357 (Hendrick/Toure): Creates the Oklahoma Antitrust Reform Act. The act prohibits any act, agreement, contract, or combination in the form of a trust, or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce within Oklahoma. Also, the act makes it illegal for any person to monopolize, attempt to monopolize, or conspire to monopolize any part of trade or commerce in a relevant market within Oklahoma. It is illegal under the act for any person engaged in commerce to discriminate in price between different purchasers of commodities of like grade or quality where the effect of the discrimination may be to lessen competition, create a monopoly, or disrupt competition with any person who grants or receives the benefit of the discrimination. The Attorney General, as parens patrie on behalf of natural persons residing in Oklahoma, or any person who is injured by a violation of the act may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, monetary damages, three times the damages sustained, court costs, and attorney fees. The act provides procedure for actions brought pursuant to the act and allows for discovery of information relevant to a civil antitrust investigation by the Attorney General.

HB 3232 (Taylor/Benson): Creates the Oklahoma Charitable Gift Annuity Act which allows a transfer of cash or other property by a donor or donors to a charitable organization in return for periodic payments by the charitable organization commencing on the date of the agreement or in the future to one or more persons designated by the donor or donors over the lives of such persons.

 

COURTS

SB 816 (Smith/Steidley): Allows the court clerk to retain all amounts collected for processing of passports and deposit into the Court Clerk's Revolving Fund. The bill modifies provisions relating to licensure of process servers. A process server may pay the current license fee of $35 to be licensed within the county in which the license is issued and may pay an additional $10 to be licensed within any other county, or a process server may pay a license fee of $150 to be licensed statewide for a period of three years. SB 816(1) makes it a misdemeanor for a court clerk to willfully fail or refuse to perform the duties of office. Also, venue for an action for divorce or annulment of marriage is modified to allow an action to be assigned for trial in any county within the judicial district, rather than just the county in which the action was filed.

SB 835 (Smith/Steidley): Increases salaries and payments for longevity of official court reporters engaged by the state. The bill requires certified shorthand reporters to complete at least four hours of continuing education approved by the State Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand Reporters.

SB 1072 (Smith/Hastings): Exempts a certain class of persons upon presentation of an identity card from search in certain public courthouses. This includes nonfederal courthouses that have implemented a security system of restricted access and are located in counties with a population of 300,000 or more.

SB 1076 (Morgan/Ingmire): Allows municipal judges to perform marriage ceremonies. In order to perform marriage ceremonies, every judge is required to place his or her order of appointment on file with the office of the court clerk of the county in which he or she resides.

SB 1361 (Wilkerson/Askins): Requires offenders to pay court-related drug testing costs and limited program user fees. The court clerk is responsible for collecting these costs and fees and disbursing the money to the appropriate fund or agency.

HB 3116 (Askins/Helton): Defines "graduated sanctions", allows a court to defer delinquency proceedings for one hundred eighty (180) days in certain instances and provides that children away from a juvenile facility who participate in an outdoor adventure program have an opportunity to wash with soap and water daily.

 

GUARDIANSHIP, POWERS OF ATTORNEY, & TRUSTS

SB 1052 (Hendrick/Davis): Excludes personal property owned by the ward with a joint tenant when the court determines whether to require a guardian to provide a bond.

SB 1122 (Douglass/Morgan): Creates the Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney Act which provides a statutory form for powers of attorney that can be used in whole or in part by any principal in designating an agent. The form includes a list of powers which relate to various separate classes of activities, not including health care matters.

SB 1291 (Hendrick/Davis): Creates the Uniform Principal and Income Act which replaces the Uniform Principal and Income Act of 1962 and 1931. It provides rules for trustees of trusts to use in determining which trust assets that come into their possession are designated as principal or income. The new act provides for trust property that did not exist in 1931 and 1962, such as derivatives and options. Also, it provides substantial authority for the trustee to adjust principal and income to account for the results of prudent investment under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.

HB 3092 (Smith/Graves): Allows the court, for good cause shown, to extend the time for filing of an inventory or appraisement by a personal representative. The bill allows a personal representative to fulfill the appraisement requirement by stating an opinion of the value of the estate described in the inventory.

 

PROPERTY

SB 1338 (Hendrick/Davis): Provides for a home equity conversion mortgage. The bill authorizes the district court to grant authority to the guardian of an estate of an incapacitated person to execute a new mortgage for the purpose of meeting the requirements for the health and safety of the ward, obtaining necessary services to meet those requirements, and protecting the rights of the ward in order to maintain the ward in his or her residence. Authority may not be granted to mortgage or contract for the renewal or extension of a mortgage for an amount greater than 2/3 of the appraised value of the real property of the ward. The court may grant authority to include in a renewal or new mortgage an amount sufficient to pay for repairs on real estate.

HB 2983 (Phillips/Smith): Creates the Self-Service Storage Facility Lien Act which allows an owner to take action to prevent an occupant who is in default pursuant to the rental agreement from gaining access to the self-service storage facility. Also, the bill provides for an owner's lien upon all personal property located at the self-service storage facility for rent, labor, or other charges in relation to the personal property and for expenses necessary for its preservation or expenses reasonable incurred in its sale or other disposition . When a rental agreement is entered into between the owner and the occupant, the lien attaches as of the date the personal property is brought to the facility and continues so long as the owner retains possession and until any default is corrected, a sale is conducted, or the property is otherwise disposed of to satisfy the lien. The bill provides for notice to the occupant and procedure for sale of occupant's property upon default. The act states that any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right of peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants committed by a tenant or by any member of the tenant's household or any guest or other person under the tenant's control or is a danger to the premises and any drug-related criminal activity on or near the premises by the tenant or by any member of the tenant's household or any guest or other person under the tenant's control shall be grounds for immediate termination of the lease.

 

TORT, CIVIL, & CRIMINAL LIABILITY

HB 2397 (Steidley/Smith): Requires any person who believes that an incapacitated person, a partially incapacitated person, or a minor is suffering from abuse, neglect, or exploitation to make a report to the Department of Human Services, the district attorney in the county in which the suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurred, or the local municipal police department or sheriff's department as soon as the person is aware of the situation. Under the bill, any person who knowingly and willfully fails to promptly report any abuse, neglect, or exploitation , upon conviction, will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person who willfully or recklessly makes a false report or a report without a reasonable basis in fact for the report will be civilly liable for any actual damages suffered by the person being reported and for any punitive damages set by the court or jury. HB 2397(1) also provides penalties for a caretaker who willfully abuses, neglects, sexually abuses, or exploits or allows any such acts to be done to any person entrusted to the caretaker.

HB 2624 (Vaughn/Hendrick): Allows a physician to administer a Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled dangerous substance in excess of the recommended dosage if, in the physician's judgment, appropriate pain management warrants the higher dosage and the benefit of the relief expected outweighs the risk of the higher dosage, even if its use may increase the risk of death, so long as it is not also furnished for the purpose of causing, or the purpose of assisting in causing, death for any reason. HB 2624 prohibits disciplinary action and state criminal prosecution against a health care professional for the prescribing, dispensing, or administering of medical treatment for the therapeutic purpose of relieving pain if the health care professional can demonstrate by reference to an accepted guideline that the health care professional's practice substantially complied with that guideline and with the standards of practice as identified in the bill. 

 

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