A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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The term of the present General Assembly expires on November 30.  No bills are on the voting calendar.

Tony Crisci, Bar Association lobbyist met with the Legislative Liaison Committee last Thursday to discuss last week’s elections.  He stated that Republicans and business interests are concerned that newly elected Attorney General Kathleen Kane will crack down on the business community.  She has also promised to review Tom Corbett’s (former Attorney General and present Governor) handling of the Sandusky investigation.

The Democrats will have increased leverage in the Senate, now that they won three Republican seats, reducing the margin in the Senate by 27 Republicans to 23 Democrats.

Supreme Court expands public access to financial records

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Thursday announced it will expand its current fiscal disclosure policy – Rule of Judicial Administration (RJA) 509 – to include expenditure and personnel salary and compensation information by posting it on one website for easy access by the public. The site will be available on Dece,ber 17In 2009, the judiciary established a fiscal disclosure website providing search, view and print options for summaries of Unified Judicial System (UJS) contracts and purchase orders of $5,000 or more.The court order expands the financial information available on the website to include annual appropriation, expenditure, personnel complement and annual compensation information for the Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.  The site will contain:– appropriation names, descriptions and annual funding amounts;– expenditure data, including the name and address of entity receiving payment, payment amount, applicable appropriation and fiscal year; and

— employee complement information, including position title and current annual salary, updated on a monthly basis, along with a list of total compensation for the prior year. Individual names will not be listed out of concern for employee security and respect for personal privacy.

The expansion of the fiscal disclosure policy is consistent with the principles of the recently enacted PennWATCH Act, balanced with the Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to independently administer the judicial branch.

Like this action by the Supreme Court, PennWATCH is aimed at fostering accountability and transparency by mandating the posting of state government expenditures and compensation on a searchable website.

Even prior to the computer age, Pennsylvania’s judiciary had a policy of making fiscal information available to the public and media upon request. As the second (by one week) state judiciary to launch a website, Pennsylvania’s courts extended that policy by making millions of case records electronically available.

With an earlier iteration of RJA 509, that electronic accessibility was extended to contract and purchase order summaries in 2009 and now that accessibility is expanded in a “one-stop shop” for other fiscal and personnel transactions.

From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest

The Free Student Research Center is closed until January.  Beginning in January, will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9AM to 3PM. The Free Student Research Center is available for use by attorneys who are current members of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section and who are court-appointed to the case for which they seek research (either state or CJA!). The Free Student Research Center is located in the Jack Myers Memorial Lounge on the Third Floor of the CJC.

You may make a research request in person or via the Criminal Justice Section website by clicking here.

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