Tom Bolt, Managing Attorney of Tom Bolt & Associates, P.C., in St. Thomas, was among the 250 attorneys, judges, law professors, legislators and other state officials – all lawyers – participating in the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), recently concluded in Pasadena, California. Mr. Bolt was first appointed a U.S. Virgin Islands Uniform Law Commissioner in 1988 and serves as Chair of the Virgin Islands Bar Association’s Committee on Legislation and Law Reform. He is currently Co-Chair of the ULC Committee on Liaison with the American Bar Association, and a member of the ULC Legislative Committee. He was also Chair of the drafting committee on the Uniform Money Services Act.
Now in its 116th year, the Uniform Law Commission is comprised of more than 300 commissioners appointed by every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states and territories of the United States. Commissioners donate their time as a pro bono public service. Bolt has served as Division Chair for the Conference for the past two years and is a member of the Conference’s Legislative Council.
Commissioners come together as the Uniform Law Commission once a year to study and consider drafts of specific statutes in areas of the law where uniformity between the various states and territories is desirable. Bolt was joined by Virgin Islands Commissioners, Yvonne Tharpes, Chief Legislative Counsel and Lisa Harris Moorhead, Virgin Islands Code Reviser.
The four acts just approved at the Uniform Law Commission Annual Meeting in California, and now available for state and territorial enactment, deal with issues ranging from the problems of resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes over adult guardianships to new rules addressing the timely issue of discovery of electronic information.
Among the acts the commissioners approved is a new Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, which Commissioner Bolt served as Division Chair. The new act addresses the issue of jurisdiction over adult guardianships, conservatorships, and other protective proceedings. Because there are more than fifty guardianship systems in the United States, problems of determining jurisdiction are frequent. This act provides an effective mechanism for resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes. This new act contains specific guidelines to specify which court has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated adult. The objective is that only one state will have jurisdiction at any one time.
The Uniform Rules Relating to Discovery of Electronically Stored Information should bring up-to-date the state rules and statutes concerning discovery in civil cases. With the emergence of electronic technology, the extent to which individuals and institutions store or maintain information in an electronic form has clearly increased since the adoption of rules governing discovery generally. By some estimates, more than 90% of corporate information is being stored in some sort of digital or electronic format. This new act mirrors the recently adopted amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with electronically stored information.
The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act provides simple procedures for courts in one state to issue subpoenas for out-of-state depositions. The Act is simple and efficient: it establishes a simple clerical procedure under which a state subpoena in the “trial state” can be used to issue a subpoena in another state. The act has minimal judicial oversight; the goal is to simplify and standardize the current patchwork of procedures across the various states for deposing witnesses for purposes of out-of-state litigation.
The Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act addresses the cooperative form of business, a unique business entity which is different from other forms of business organizations. This act creates a new form of business entity and is an alternative to other cooperative and unincorporated structures. It is more flexible than most current law, and provides a default template that encourages planners to utilize tested cooperative principles for a broad range of entities and purposes.
Amendments were also approved to the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act which has been introduced in the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, the Uniform Representation of Children in Abuse and Neglect and Custody Proceedings Act, and the Model Entity Transactions Act.
Information on all of these acts, including the approved text of each act, can be found at the ULC website at www.nccusl.org.
Since its inception in 1892, the organization has promulgated more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, Uniform Partnership Act, Uniform Securities Act, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.