There has been lots of opinions that the Judicial Council and the AOC are engaged in certain activities that they should not be engaged in. This post will be a build-a-list post of business the AOC is engaged in that they shouldn’t be engaged in.
- Educating teachers to educate our children. Every civics book in America outlines the roles and responsibilities of the three branches of government. Teachers educate our children utilizing these same books. While those in power might not be happy that the judiciary has an approval rating on par with the department of corrections, educating our children regarding the role and responsibilities of the judiciary has nothing to do with adjudicating cases and is not going to improve approval ratings. Serving the public with shorter lines and fair and equitable rulings will improve approval ratings. This activity amounts to a waste of resources.
- Court Construction & Management. Nowhere else in America will you find a judiciary owning, managing or building their own buildings. With light bulb changes floating somewhere between 300.00 and 2500.00 and courthouses priced as high as $1,900 per square foot, with some new courthouses priced as much as $130,000.00 per resident they serve courthouses have become partly based on need but mostly based on patronage for supporting centralization, the council and the AOC.
- Being involved in the workers comp system in any capacity. When you appeal an administrative decision of the workers comp system, that appeal lands on the bench of the same people that run the judicial system. The idea that the AOC manages the workers comp system for many courts is a conflict of interests with the AOC collecting clawbacks from the trial courts for a system that does anything they can to deny claims. Unfortunately all of this extra money clawed back from the trial courts is not returned to the trial courts while the concept of self-insurance is to save money. This continued scenario returns no money back to the trial courts so savings are questionable while the system is called horrid by those who are injured on the job, with the AOC routinely denying claims and claiming a loss of paperwork or “too late to file”. So you say you want to appeal? That goes to an appellate court, many of the same people that govern the AOC. Good luck there.
- Educating our judges. Some of the stories JCW has heard about what happens in the judges educational programs operated by the AOC seem to serve to compromise the overall independence of the judiciary if the allegations have any truth to them.
- Investigating and auditing themselves. The office of the ironically named fraud, waste and abuse coordinator reports to the director of finance. Therefore, no credible, independent audit or investigation is possible. Utilizing this same office to investigate and audit the trial courts operations is also a conflict of interests when opinions are formulated by the Office of General Counsel, those tasked to defend the trial courts, and are given to the office of the fraud, waste and abuse coordinator to present to and be accepted by the council.
- The creation of rules, policies and procedures that the Judicial Council and the AOC does not enforce due to a lack of any effective enforcement mechanisms.
- The AOC should not, in the name of the Chief Justice, re-appoint retired judges to the same courts in perpetuity. No assignment that is defined as temporary and supposed to last only 30-90 days should result in re-appointment of the same retired judge to the same court for over a calendar year. Re-appointing the same retired judge to the same court for 18 years is a violation of the public trust in the name of the chief justice.
- Reserved for your entry.