HOUSE BILL NO. 554
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE TO PROVIDE FOR COMMISSIONERS OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 13, Title 10 of the Delaware Code by
re-designating present §1309 through §1312 (being Subchapter II) as new §1311 through §1316; by re-designating present §1313 through §1322 (being Subchapter III) as new §1321 through §1330.
Section 2. Amend Subchapter II, Chapter 13• Title 10 of the Delaware Code to provide new sections 1315 and 1316 to read as follows:
"§ 1315. Commissioners of the Court of Common Pleas; appointment;
terms of office; removal.
(a) The Governor may appoint, with the consent of a majority of all members elected to the Senate, suitable persons to act as Commissioners of the Court of Common Pleas, all of whom shall hold office for a term of 4 years. Vacancies in office shall be filled for a term of 4 years by the Governor, with the consent of a majority of all members elected to the Senate. Appointees shall be residents of the State of Delaware, shall be duly admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of this State, and shall not engage in the practice of law nor any business, occupation, or employment inconsistent with the expeditious, proper, and impartial performance of their duties as
judicial officers. The number of Commissioners from one major
political party shall not exceed the number of Commissioners from another major political party by more than one.
(a) Individuals appointed as Commissioners under this section
shall take the oath or affirmation prescribed by Article XIV, § 1 of the Delaware Constitution before they enter upon the duties of their offices.
(a) The salaries of Commissioners shall be part of the annual
budget of the Court of Common Pleas. The salary of a Commissioner shall not be reduced during the term being served below the salary fixed at the beginning of that term.
§ 1316. Jurisdiction and powers of Commissioners of the Court of
(a) Each Commissioner serving under this chapter shall have:
(1) all powers and duties conferred or imposed upon
Commissioners by law or by the Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure for the Court of Common Pleas.
(1) the power to administer oaths and affirmations, issue
orders pursuant to Chapter 21, Title 11 of the Delaware Code concerning release or detention of persons pending trial, and take acknowledgements, affidavits, and depositions.
(1) the power to accept pleas of not guilty to any offense within the jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas and to appoint counsel to represent indigent defendants.
(1) the power to accept a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor or violation, including any violation of probation, or violation of Title 21 of the Delaware Code, or any other violation defined in the Delaware Code, and, with the consent of the parties, to enter a sentence thereon.
(b) Commissioners may be designated to perform the following with the approval of the Chief Judge or his designee:
(1)(A) A judge may designate a Commissioner to hear and
determine any pretrial matter pending before the Court, except the following motions: for judgment on the pleadings, for summary judgment, to dismiss or quash an indictment or information made by the defendant, to suppress evidence in a criminal case, to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and to involuntarily dismiss an action. A judge of the Court may reconsider any pretrial matter under this subparagraph (A) where it has been shown that the Commissioner's order is based upon findings of fact that are clearly erroneous, or is contrary to law, or an abuse of discretion.
(B) A judge may also designate a Commissioner to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the Court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the Court, of any motion excepted in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph or of applications for postconviction relief made by individuals convicted or criminal offenses.
(A) The Commissioner shall file proposed findings and
recommendations under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph with the Court and shall mail copies forthwith to all parties.
(B) Within 10 days after being served with a copy of proposed findings and recommendations under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph any party may serve and file written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations as provided by rules of Court. A judge of the Court shall make a A novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is make. A judge of the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Commissioner. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the Commissioner with instructions.
(2) A judge may also designate a Commissioner to serve as a special master or master grg hac vice pursuant to the applicable provisions of the Court of Common Pleas Civil Rules of Procedure.
(3) A Commissioner may be assigned such additional duties by the Chief Judge, including assignments to other courts upon designation by the Chief Justice, as are not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the State of Delaware. A Commissioner designated to sit in another court may exercise the powers and duties of a commissioner appointed to said court."
Approved July 14, 1994