[an error occurred while processing this directive]
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Improving the Department of Justice
Felony Prosecutor Staff Enhancement
Delaware has many fewer felony prosecutors than other similarly sized juris-dictions across the country, and the case loads carried by our felony prosecutors have risen dramatically over the last ten years. Too few prosecutors handling too many felony cases diminishes the ability of the Department's prosecutors to handle their cases appropriately. Working in partnership with the General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee, the Attorney General has devised a three-year staff enhancement plan designed to assure that the prosecutors assigned to our most serious criminal cases will be able to meet their responsibilities to the public.
Public Lawyer Student Loan Forgiveness
Because of the rising costs of law school tuition, today's law school graduates often are forced to borrow $100,000 or more in order to pay for their education. These student loans must be repaid upon graduation from law school, and this debt burden often forces lawyers interested in public service into higher-paying private sector jobs. In order to ensure that the Department of Justice, Public Defender and other State agencies are able to attract qualified law school graduates, particularly those from the less-affluent sectors of society, the Attorney General will present legislation that will create a program to assist lawyers employed full-time by the State with their law school tuition loan payments.
Powers of the Attorney General
The laws that create the Department of Justice do not specify who is authorized to exercise the authority of the Attorney General should there be a vacancy in that office. This legislation will specify that the Chief Deputy Attorney General will temporarily assume the duties of the Attorney General should the office become vacant, and until the Governor appoints a new Attorney General.
Deputy Attorneys General are the only state workers who are required by law to live in Delaware. In order to enhance the
Department's ability to attract and retain qualified lawyers, the Attorney General will support legislation that repeals the residency requirement for most of the Attorney
General's staff. The residency requirement will be retained for the
Department's senior managers.
This act would require state agencies to electronically publish notice on the State's website of all contracts subject to the bid requirements of the Delaware Procurement Act, 29 Del. Ch. 69, in addition to newspaper publication, which is currently required. This amendment to the notice requirements of the Procurement Act will provide broader notification of State bid opportunities for all interested persons.
Improving the Justice System
Community Sanctions and Probation
Forty percent of our prison beds are taken up by probation violators. Before the state embarks on another costly prison expansion, the criminal justice system must ensure we are making the best possible use of existing prison space. The Attorney General will work with the Commissioner of Correction and through the Sentencing Accountability Commission to create more effective community based sanctions - other than probation, and to limit the use of prison beds by probation violators.
The large majority of the criminal cases handled by Delaware's courts involve motor vehicle infractions. By converting all but the most serious motor vehicle infractions to civil violations, citizens will avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction and the criminal justice system will be spared the needless additional costs associated with the criminalization of these minor infractions. The Attorney General is working in partnership with Representative Robert Valihura to meet these goals.
Citizens who are arrested for minor criminal offenses but not convicted should have the right the remove the records of the arrest from their criminal history, and the procedure to do so should be a simple one. The Attorney General and Rep. Valihura are working to draft legislation that will simplify and modernize Delaware's expungement process.
This legislation will authorize the Court of Common Pleas to order a defendant convicted of a property crime to pay full restitution to the victim, even if the amount of restitution exceeds the $1,000 felony-misdemeanor threshold.
Statute of Limitations
Delaware's existing statute of limitations allows defendants who are charged with a misdemeanor crime to abscond from the jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace, transfer the case to the Court of Common Pleas after they are re-arrested, and then claim that the statute of limitations bars their prosecution. This legislation will toll the operation of the statute of limitations whenever a court issues a capias for failure to appear in a criminal case.
Child Visitation in Correctional Facilities
Currently, court ordered child visitation to correctional facilities places a serious burden on caretakers and the correctional system. This act will require Family Court to make specific findings that the incarcerated parent had a substantial relationship with the child prior to such incarceration when the incarcerated parent seeks to force visitation. However, this requirement shall not apply when the child affirmatively seeks visitation with the parent or other family member.
Correction Subpoena Procedure
Create a procedure to subpoena Department of Correction (DOC) records that would allow the DOC more time (30 days) to respond to subpoenas without requiring the DOC to file a motion to quash merely to get sufficient time to respond. In addition, it would enable the DOC to object to subpoenas in writing, which puts the burden on the issuer to obtain a motion to compel, rather than the burden being on the DOC to obtain an order quashing the subpoena.
Child Death, Near Death Review Oversight
This legislation would designate the Child Death, Near Death and Still Birth Commission as a health oversight entity and as a public health authority in order to ensure access to necessary medical and mental health records to effectively perform its reviews of child deaths and near deaths.
Protecting the Public
Criminals who use illegal drugs and then operate a motor vehicle are a threat to us all. Nationally, drugged drivers are involved in approximately 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. This legislation will punish those who drive after using illegal drugs by making it a crime to operate a motor vehicle after consuming illegal drugs, regardless of the quantity consumed. This new law will be known as the Kelly Lynn Clinton Act.
Sex Crimes Committed Against Minors
This legislation will increase the punishment imposed upon criminals who engage in unlawful sexual contact with a minor whenever the defendant is in a position of trust, authority or supervision over the child. Under current law, this crime can sometimes be a misdemeanor. This legislation will classify the crime as a felony.
The theft of a motor vehicle often causes great inconvenience and economic hardship to the victim, regardless of the value of the stolen vehicle. In recognition of that fact, this legislation will classify all motor vehicle thefts as a felony.
Vehicular Homicide and Assault
The language used to define these crimes limits their scope to accidents involving criminally negligent or intoxicated drivers of automobiles and trucks. This legislation will expand the coverage of those crimes to include boats, trains and airplanes.
Crimes Committed by Teachers
In order to ensure that those to whom we entrust our children are worthy of that responsibility this legislation will require teachers who are charged with a crime to notify the principal or headmaster of their school of the arrest.
Mandatory Background Checks for Private School Employees
Delaware led the nation in requiring all employees of public schools to submit to a criminal background check before hiring. The legislation will expand the safeguards provided by the requirement to our children in private schools. Senator Blevins is the sponsor of this legislation.
Civil Administrative Penalties for Unlicensed Professional Practice
This legislation would permit professional regulatory boards to issue cease and desist orders as well as administrative penalties against those persons who engage in the practice of a profession without having lawfully obtained a license. Such civil administrative penalties would also apply to those persons practicing a profession after a license suspension or revocation.
Protecting Students Against Sex Offenders
This legislation would bar registered sex offenders from being employed on public works projects issued by a school district. The purpose of prohibiting registered sex offenders from working on school district public works projects is to protect students against potential sex offenses perpetrated by workers in the construction trades at school sites.
Restrictions Against Unlicensed Gambling by Non-charitable Organizations
The purpose of this legislation would be to provide the Gaming Control Board with jurisdiction over poker tournaments held by non-charitable organizations and impose administrative penalties for their failure to lawfully conduct such tournaments.
Penalties for Open Dumping on Real Property
Provide criminal penalties specifically for open dumping of waste or refuse upon real property without the landowner's permission, and provide a right of restitution to the landowner for costs incurred by the landowner in cleaning up the waste or refuse, including reasonable attorney's fees. Provide for escalating penalties for multiple offenses, and provide for forfeiture of vehicles or other private property used in the commission.
Protecting the members of our Armed Forces
Increases the maximum leave of absence for military service from 3 years to 5 years. This change is necessary to bring Delaware law into compliance with the Service Members Civil Relief Act. 38 U.S.C. Ch 43