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H.B. 351





Chief Sponsor: Curtis Oda

Senate Sponsor: Jon J. Greiner

             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill establishes procedures to determine if court fees and costs should be paid in
             10      full or waived in whole or in part for a prisoner who files an initial divorce action or an
             11      action to obtain custody of the prisoner's children.
             12      Highlighted Provisions:
             13          This bill:
             14          .    requires the court to review the financial information of a prisoner who files an
             15      affidavit of impecuniosity;
             16          .    requires courts, constables, and sheriffs to provide equal service to the impecunious;
             17      and
             18          .    provides that a judge may order that a judgment or decree not be entered in favor of
             19      the prisoner who has been required to pay court costs and fees until those costs and
             20      fees are paid in full.
             21      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             22          None
             23      Other Special Clauses:
             24          None
             25      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             26      AMENDS:
             27          78A-2-305, as renumbered and amended by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 3

             29      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             30          Section 1. Section 78A-2-305 is amended to read:
             31           78A-2-305. Effect of filing affidavit -- Procedure for review and collection.
             32          (1) (a) Upon receipt of the oath or affirmation filed with any Utah court by a prisoner,
             33      the court shall immediately request the institution or facility where the prisoner is incarcerated
             34      to provide an account statement detailing all financial activities in the prisoner's trust account
             35      for the previous six months or since the time of incarceration, whichever is shorter.
             36          (b) The incarcerating facility shall:
             37          (i) prepare and produce to the court the prisoner's six-month trust account statement,
             38      current trust account balance, and aggregate disposable income; and
             39          (ii) calculate aggregate disposable income by totaling all deposits made in the
             40      prisoner's trust account during the six-month period and subtracting all funds automatically
             41      deducted or otherwise garnished from the account during the same period.
             42          (2) The court shall:
             43          (a) review both the affidavit of impecuniosity and the financial account statement; and
             44          (b) based upon the review, independently determine whether or not the prisoner is
             45      financially capable of paying all the regular fees and costs associated with filing the action.
             46          (3) When the court concludes that the prisoner is unable to pay full fees and costs, the
             47      court shall assess an initial partial filing fee equal to 50% of the prisoner's current trust account
             48      balance or 10% of the prisoner's six-month aggregate disposable income, whichever is greater.
             49          (4) (a) After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the court shall require the prisoner
             50      to make monthly payments of 20% of the preceding month's aggregate disposable income until
             51      the regular filing fee associated with the civil action is paid in full.
             52          (b) The agency having custody of the prisoner shall:
             53          (i) garnish the prisoner's account each month; and
             54          (ii) once the collected fees exceed $10, forward payments to the clerk of the court until
             55      the filing fees are paid.
             56          (c) Nothing in this section may be construed to prevent the agency having custody of
             57      the prisoner from withdrawing funds from the prisoner's account to pay court-ordered
             58      restitution.

             59          (5) Collection of the filing fees continues despite dismissal of the action.
             60          (6) The filing fee collected may not exceed the amount of fees permitted by statute for
             61      the commencement of a civil action or an appeal of a civil action.
             62          (7) If the prisoner is filing an initial divorce action or an action to obtain custody of the
             63      prisoner's children, the following procedures shall apply for review and collection of fees and
             64      costs:
             65          (a) Upon filing an oath or affirmation with any Utah court by a prisoner, the court shall
             66      review the affidavit and make an independent determination based on the information provided
             67      whether court costs and fees should be paid in full or be waived in whole or in part. The court
             68      shall require a full or partial filing fee when the prisoner's financial information demonstrates
             69      an ability to pay the applicable court fees or costs.
             70          (b) (i) If a prisoner's court fees or costs are completely waived, and if the prisoner files
             71      an appeal, the court shall immediately file any complaint or papers on appeal and complete all
             72      necessary action as promptly as if the litigant had paid all the fees and costs in full.
             73          (ii) If a prisoner is impecunious, the constable and sheriff shall immediately serve any
             74      summonses, writs, process and subpoenas, and papers necessary in the prosecution or defense
             75      of the cause as if all the necessary fees and costs had been paid in full.
             76          (c) (i) If a prisoner files an affidavit of impecuniosity, the judge shall question the
             77      prisoner at the time of hearing on the merits of the case as to the prisoner's ability to pay.
             78          (ii) If the judge determines that the person is reasonably able to pay court fees and
             79      costs, the judge shall order that the judgment or decree not be entered in favor of the prisoner
             80      until the fees or costs are paid in full.
             81          (iii) If a judge orders that a judgment or decree not be entered in favor of the prisoner
             82      because the fees or costs are not paid in full, a judge may cancel or modify that order as
             83      warranted by subsequent facts.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 2-4-09 3:41 PM

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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