Subchapter C. MINOR JUDICIARY INTEREST ON TRUST ACCOUNTS


Sec.


81.301.    Minor Judiciary Interest on Trust Accounts Program.
81.302.    Definitions.
81.303.    Scope
81.304.    Custodial Funds.
81.305.    Special Provisions Applicable to Custodial Accounts of Magisterial District Judges.
81.306.    Requirements Applicable to MJ-IOTA Accounts.
81.307.    Exemptions from MJ-IOTA Participation.
81.308.    Refunds.

Preamble: Statement of Purpose

   The Minor Judiciary Interest on Trust Accounts Program (the ‘‘MJ-IOTA Program’’) was established by Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dated August 3, 2004. The judges and justices of all courts created pursuant to Article V, Sections 6 and 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution are subject to MJ-IOTA. These include Magisterial District Judges, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, Traffic Division (assuming the jurisdiction and functions of the former Traffic Court of Philadelphia) and judges of the Pittsburgh Municipal Court (judicial unit assigned matters that were formerly within the jurisdiction of the Pittsburgh Magistrates).

   The MJ-IOTA Program generates income where formerly there was none. This income aids the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Income earned on MJ-IOTA Accounts may be used only for educational legal clinical programs and internships administered by law schools located in Pennsylvania, delivery of civil legal assistance to the poor and disadvantaged in Pennsylvania by non-profit corporations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and for the administration and development of the MJ-IOTA Program.

Source

   The provisions of this Preamble: Statement of Purpose amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (387871).

§ 81.301. Minor Judiciary Interest on Trust Accounts Program.

 (a)  All Qualified Funds received by a judge, magistrate or Magisterial District Judge (hereinafter Judicial Official) in the administration of his/her duties shall be placed in a Minor Judiciary Interest on Trust Account (hereinafter MJ-IOTA Account) as defined in paragraph (c) below; such Qualified Funds placed in MJ-IOTA Accounts are referred to hereinafter as MJ-IOTA Funds. This rule does not change existing practices with respect to funds (other than Qualified Funds) received by a Judicial Official in the administration of his/her duties.

 (b)  Qualified Funds are monies received by a Judicial Official in a Custodial Capacity that, in the Good Faith judgment of the Judicial Official are nominal in amount or are reasonably expected to be held for such a short period of time that sufficient income will not be generated to justify the expense of earning income to benefit the owner of the funds.

 (c)  An MJ-IOTA Account is an unsegregated interest-bearing account with a Depository Institution for the deposit of Qualified Funds maintained by a Judicial Official. An account shall not be considered an MJ-IOTA Account unless the Depository Institution at which the account is maintained shall:

   (1)  Remit monthly any income earned on the account to the Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (hereinafter the IOLTA Board), or if that is not possible, remit the income earned at least quarterly.

   (2)  Transmit to the IOLTA Board with each remittance a statement showing not less than the following information: the name of the account; the account number; the service charges and/or fees deducted, if any; the amount of income remitted from the account; and if available, the average daily collected balance in the account for the period reported.

   (3)  Compute the rate of interest or dividend paid on an MJ-IOTA Account at no less than the highest rate of interest or dividend generally available from the Depository Institution to non-MJ-IOTA customers when the MJ-IOTA Account meets the same minimum balance or other account eligibility qualifications.

   (4)  Collateralize the account with the assets of the Depository Institution in accordance with current practice and Act 72 of 1971.

 (d)  The MJ-IOTA Program shall be administered by the IOLTA Board. Disbursement and allocation of MJ-IOTA Funds shall be subject to the prior approval of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (hereinafter the Court). A copy of the IOLTA Board’s proposed annual budget will be provided to the Court, designating the uses to which MJ-IOTA funds are recommended. The IOLTA Board shall submit to the Court a copy of its audited statement of financial affairs, clearly setting forth in detail all funds previously approved for disbursement under the MJ-IOTA Program.

 Income earned on MJ-IOTA Accounts may be used only for the following purposes:

   (1)  educational legal clinical programs and internships administered by law schools located in Pennsylvania, with emphasis given to providing grants to these programs such that the total funding they receive from the IOLTA Board is relatively stable and reasonably predictable from year to year in accordance with the allocation plan approved by the Court:

   (2)  delivery of civil legal assistance to the poor and disadvantaged in Pennsylvania by non-profit corporations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; and

   (3)  administration and development of the MJ-IOTA Program in Pennsylvania.

 (e)  The IOLTA Board shall hold the beneficial interest in MJ-IOTA Funds. Monies received in the MJ-IOTA Program are not state or federal funds and are not subject to Article VI of the Act of April 9, 1929 (P. L. 177, No. 175) known as the Administrative Code of 1929, or the Act of June 29, 1976 (P. L. 469, No. 117).

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.301 adopted August 3, 2004, effective August 3, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 4553; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (387871) to (387872) and (309493).

§ 81.302. Definitions.

 The following words and phrases when used in these Regulations shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   AOPC. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

   AOPC Magisterial District Judge Case Reporting System. The computerized docket activity tracking and accounting system developed by the AOPC for use by the Magisterial District Judges throughout the state.

   Beneficial Owner. The third party whose funds are in the custody of a Judicial Official.

   Comparability Guidance. Guidance developed and updated from time to time by the IOLTA Board which addresses how Depository Institutions should determine the comparable interest or dividend rate to be applied to MJ-IOTA Accounts. This guidance is made available online at www.paiolta.org and may also be obtained by writing to the IOLTA Board at P.O. Box 62445, Harrisburg, PA 17106-2445.

   Custodial Account. Any account maintained in a Depository Institution in which or with respect to which a Judicial Official holds the funds of a Beneficial Owner.

   Custodial Capacity. The capacity in which the Judicial Official holds funds of a Beneficial Owner received by a Judicial Official in his or her capacity as a Judicial Official.

   Custodial Funds. Funds, whether cash, check, money order, or other negotiable instrument, received by a Judicial Official in his or her capacity as a Judicial Official.

   Depository Institution. A financial institution in which a Judicial Official holds funds of Beneficial Owners in a Custodial Account.

   Good Faith. Honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned.

   IOLTA Board. The Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Board.

   Judicial Official. Each judge and justice of all courts created pursuant to Article V, Sections 6 and 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution are judicial officials. These include Magisterial District Judges, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, Traffic Division and judges of the Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

   MJ-IOTA Account. An un-segregated income-producing account with a Depository Institution for the deposit of Qualified Funds by a Judicial Official, the income from which is beneficially owned by the IOLTA Board.

   MJ-IOTA Order. The Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dated August 3, 2004 which established the Minor Judiciary Interest on Trust Account Program.

   Qualified Funds. Funds, whether cash, check, money order, or other negotiable instrument received by a Judicial Official in his or her capacity as a Judicial Official which, in the Good Faith judgment of the Judicial Official, are nominal in amount or are reasonably expected to be held for such a short period of time that sufficient income will not be generated to justify the expense of earning income to benefit the Beneficial Owner of the funds.

   Regulations. These regulations adopted by the IOLTA Board, and approved by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, as they may be amended from time to time.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.302 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (309494) to (309495).

§ 81.303. Scope.

 The MJ-IOTA Program applies to each Custodial Account maintained by, or on behalf of, a Judicial Official in the performance of his or her official duties.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.303 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (309495).

§ 81.304. Custodial Funds.

 (a)  Custodial Funds must be deposited in a Custodial Account.

 (b)  Qualified Funds are Custodial Funds that, in the Good Faith judgment of the Judicial Official, are nominal in amount or are reasonably expected to be held for such a short period of time that sufficient income will not be generated to justify the expense of earning income to benefit the Beneficial Owner of the funds. With few exceptions, Custodial Funds handled by Judicial Officials will be Qualified Funds.

 (c)  The Judicial Official, in the exercise of Good Faith judgment, should apply an economic benefits test to determine whether particular Custodial Funds are not Qualified Funds and hence the Beneficial Owner of the funds should receive the income on those funds.

   (1)  If the anticipated cost of administering a segregated account for the benefit of the Beneficial Owner of the funds is more than the income expected to be generated on the funds, then the funds are Qualified Funds.

   (2)  Custodial Funds that when considered alone are not large enough to earn income for the Beneficial Owner thereof are Qualified Funds.

   (3)  Funds which are not expected to be held for a sufficient time to provide income for the Beneficial Owner are Qualified Funds.

 (d)  Factors which should be used to determine whether Custodial Funds are Qualified Funds include:

   (1)  the cost of establishing and maintaining separate account(s) benefiting Beneficial Owners;

   (2)  the account and bank service charges of the Depository Institution in which the account is maintained;

   (3)  the minimum deposit requirements of the Depository Institution in which the account is maintained;

   (4)  accounting fees incurred in connection with the funds;

   (5)  tax reporting requirement costs incurred in connection with the funds; and

   (6)  the length of time the funds are expected to be on deposit and the rate of interest or dividend that will be earned on the funds.

 (e)  Examples of Qualified Funds include:

   (1)  funds collected which represent fines and costs that are awaiting payment to the appropriate governmental entity;

   (2)  funds collected which represent posting of collateral by individuals who plead not guilty to a charged offense, unless those funds are of such a magnitude that the costs of administering a separate account for those funds, including service charges and other charges, will be less than the income anticipated to be earned;

   (3)  funds collected which represent posting of bail by or on behalf of an individual awaiting a hearing, unless those funds are of such a magnitude that the costs of administering a separate account for those funds, including service charges and other charges, will be less than the income anticipated to be earned;

   (4)  funds collected which represent restitution to victims pending the payment of the funds to the victims; and

   (5)  funds collected which represent payment of filing fees and other costs pending payment to the appropriate persons or entities.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.304 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (309495) to (309496).

§ 81.305. Special Provisions Applicable to Custodial Accounts of Magisterial District Judges.

 (a)  Each Magisterial District Judge must use the statewide computerized reporting system of the AOPC for reporting all transactions which occur through his or her Custodial Account. As of the date of these Regulations, the AOPC Magisterial District Judge Case Reporting System is incapable of handling more than one Custodial Account per Magisterial District Judge, meaning that each Magisterial District Judge may maintain only one Custodial Account.

 (b)  Custodial Funds received by a Magisterial District Judge will generally be Qualified Funds. Magisterial District Judges, however, may determine that particular Custodial Funds received are not, in fact, Qualified Funds, applying the criteria set forth in §  81.304.

 (c)  Each Magisterial District Judge is permitted to exercise his or her judgment as to whether Custodial Funds received by that Magisterial District Judge are Qualified Funds. If, in the Good Faith judgment of the Magisterial District Judge, Custodial Funds are not Qualified Funds, the Magisterial District Judge may request a refund of income with respect to those Custodial Funds. See §  81.308—Refunds.

 (d)  If, in the future, the AOPC Magisterial District Judge Case Reporting System permits handling of multiple Custodial Accounts for each Magisterial District Judge, the provisions of this section shall no longer apply, although Magisterial District Judges shall remain subject to the remaining provisions of these Regulations.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.305 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (309496) to (309497).

§ 81.306. Requirements Applicable to MJ-IOTA Accounts.

 (a)  Unless an exemption has been granted to the Judicial Official, each Judicial Official shall establish an MJ-IOTA Account at the Depository Institution of his or her choice, provided that the Depository Institution complies with the MJ-IOTA Regulations. If local county policies and procedures concerning accounts established by the Judicial Official exist, nothing herein shall be construed as relieving the Judicial Official of complying with such policies and procedures, except to the extent inconsistent herewith.

 (b)  In order to qualify an account as a MJ-IOTA Account, the Depository Institution must satisfy the requirements set forth in Section 81.301(c) above.

 (c)  The following additional requirements apply to MJ-IOTA Accounts:

   (1)  A Depository Institution shall submit to the IOLTA Board for review and approval a Compliance Certification Form, which identifies the rate of interest or dividend to be provided for MJ-IOTA Accounts and certifies the Depository Institution’s compliance with the MJ-IOTA Regulations and the IOLTA Board’s Comparability Guidance. Prior to changing a rate that was previously approved by the IOLTA Board, or when the rates for comparable products exceed the rate listed in the Depository Institution’s most recently approved Compliance Certification Form, the Depository Institution shall submit a new Compliance Certification Form to the IOLTA Board for review and approval.

   (2)  Depository Institutions shall grant requests by the IOLTA Board to recover income that was not remitted to the IOLTA Board, in accordance with the Depository Institution’s most recently approved Compliance Certification Form, during the twelve months preceding the IOLTA Board’s request.

 (d)  Depository Institutions may impose reasonable service charges for the administration of MJ-IOTA Accounts.

   (1)  A Depository Institution may deduct service charges such as maintenance fees and transaction charges against the amount of income to be paid on the MJ-IOTA Account to which service charges apply.

   (2)  All costs associated with check printing, overdraft charges, charges for a temporary extension of credit, stopped payments, certified checks, wire transfers and similar bank charges shall not be assessed against Qualified Funds in or income earned on an MJ-IOTA Account.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.306 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (309497).

§ 81.307. Exemptions from MJ-IOTA Participation.

 (a)  The IOLTA Board may grant exemptions from participation in the MJ-IOTA Program. Exemptions are not automatic. The IOLTA Board may declare a Judicial Official exempt from the requirements of maintaining an MJ-IOTA Account. Alternatively, a Judicial Official may submit a written request for exemption. All requests by a Judicial Official must be made on the Judicial Official’s official letterhead, and all requests must set forth in reasonable detail the basis for the requested exemption.

 (b)  Exemptions may be granted only with respect to the maintenance of an MJ-IOTA Account for Qualified Funds. The IOLTA Board is not empowered to handle other types of exemptions. Judicial Officials exempt from maintenance of an MJ-IOTA Account are reminded that the Judicial Official remains subject to other requirements pertaining to Custodial Funds.

 (c)  Exemptions will be routinely granted in the following situations:

   (1)  Low balance account: Any Custodial Account which historically, generally based upon 12 consecutive months of activity, has an average daily balance of three thousand five hundred ($3,500) Dollars or less will be exempt from being an MJ-IOTA Account. The IOLTA Board may exempt from the MJ-IOTA Program, without application, a low balance account. A Judicial Official requesting an exemption based on a low balance account must, as a part of the written request for exemption, include an account analysis or written statement that demonstrates the amount of the average daily balance.

   (2)  Account service charges routinely exceed income: Some Custodial Accounts may have an average daily balance of more than $3,500, but account service charges routinely exceed the income earned on the account. A Judicial Official requesting an exemption under this subsection, as part of the written request for exemption, must include an account analysis or written statement that clearly shows the income earned, or the income that would have been earned, on the account each month for the past 12 months, plus the account service charges imposed on the account for each of the last 12 months. Only account-related service charges will be considered for the purpose of whether an exemption will be granted.

   (3)  Extreme impracticality: Under limited circumstances it may be unduly burdensome for a Judicial Official to maintain an MJ-IOTA Account. When claiming undue hardship, the Judicial Official should provide appropriate detail demonstrating undue hardship. An example includes the lack of a Depository Institution that offers MJ-IOTA Accounts in the Judicial Official’s geographical location.

   (4)  Other compelling and necessitous reasons: A Judicial Official who demonstrates a compelling and necessitous reason for not complying with the MJ-IOTA Program may request an exemption. A philosophical objection to the MJ-IOTA Program does not constitute a compelling and necessitous reason for an exemption.

 (d)  If the IOLTA Board denies a Judicial Official’s request for an exemption from maintenance of an MJ-IOTA Account, the Judicial Official may, within 30 days of written notice of denial from the IOLTA Board, request in writing a reconsideration of the IOLTA Board’s decision. All requests for reconsideration shall set forth in detail additional facts, if any, not brought before the IOLTA Board in the request for exemption, as well as the reasons, if any, why an exemption should be granted.

 (e)  If the IOLTA Board has determined that a Judicial Official’s Custodial Account is exempt from the MJ-IOTA Program, the Judicial Official may, within 30 days of written notice from the IOLTA Board that the Judicial Official is exempt, request in writing a reconsideration of the IOLTA Board’s decision. All requests for reconsideration shall set forth in detail facts, if any, why the Judicial Official should maintain an MJ-IOTA Account, and the manner, if any, in which the IOLTA Board and the purposes of the MJ-IOTA Program will be furthered by the Judicial Official’s maintenance of an MJ-IOTA Account.

 (f)  Notice shall be deemed to have been given to a Judicial Official under the provisions of this Section upon the deposit by the IOLTA Board, postage prepaid, with the United States Postal Service of its written determination regarding the exemption, if any, of the Judicial Official from the MJ-IOTA Program.

 (g)  The IOLTA Board may delegate to its staff or to a committee of the IOLTA Board the authority to determine exemptions from the MJ-IOTA Program or to reconsider exemption denials or determinations.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.307 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (309498) and (328847).

§ 81.308. Refunds.

 (a)  The IOLTA Board may return income paid to the IOLTA Board under certain circumstances. For example, if a Judicial Official mistakenly places Custodial Funds which are not Qualified Funds in an MJ-IOTA Account, then the Judicial Official may apply to the IOLTA Board for a refund of the income paid to the IOLTA Board.

 (b)  At the time of the issuance of these Regulations, all Custodial Funds handled by Magisterial District Judges are anticipated to be Qualified Funds. Magisterial District Judges occasionally may determine that certain Custodial Funds maintained in their Custodial Account do not meet this presumption, and are not Qualified Funds. Upon application of the Magisterial District Judge, the IOLTA Board may return income paid to it applicable to the funds which were not Qualified Funds.

 (c)  The following guidelines apply to requests for a refund of income:

   (1)  Requests by a Judicial Official must be made on the Judicial Official’s official letterhead, and all requests must set forth in reasonable detail the basis for the requested refund.

   (2)  Requests must be accompanied by verification of the income paid with respect to the funds mistakenly placed in the MJ-IOTA Account. Verification must be made by the Depository Institution in which the MJ-IOTA Account is maintained. As needed for auditing purposes, the IOLTA Board may request additional documentation.

   (3)  The IOLTA Board will only consider requests where the income to be refunded was received by the IOLTA Board during the twelve-month period prior to the IOLTA Board receiving the written request for a refund.

   (4)  Refunds will be remitted through the Depository Institution that transmitted the income to the IOLTA Board unless an alternative method is requested and agreed to by the IOLTA Board.

   (5)  If the Depository Institution has imposed a service charge with respect to the MJ-IOTA Account, only the net amount of income paid to the IOLTA Board (i.e., the income reduced by applicable service charges) will be refunded.

   (6)  The IOLTA Board may impose and deduct a processing charge from the refund.

Source

   The provisions of this §  81.308 adopted January 6, 2005, effective February 1, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 497; amended August 7, 2017, effective immediately, 47 Pa.B. 4802. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (328847) to (328848).



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