Judge John Kennelly – You get it. Welcome to JCW’s Hall of Fame

Posted on May 17, 2012

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How do you inadvertently get slipped into JCW’s hall of fame or even digital purgatory?

You do something above and beyond. The former – just saying it like it is works and with the latter – well chewing on both feet at the same time is likely to get you a hall pass to digital purgatory. We catch you more than a few times with your feet in your mouth and you’re stuck there.

Now for a little background on the below letter: Since the Governor unveiled his May revise an effort has been made to secure the signatures of all 58 Presiding Judges on a letter to be sent to the Governor. Judges have been pressured and coerced to sign this letter. A number of those judges sought to include language that the Judicial Council/AOC not be given authority to impose budget cuts on the courts but rather have whatever money is allocated by the legislature directly given to the courts without reserves or hold backs by the council/AOC. That language was rejected by the central politburo.

One courageous judge from the small county of Sierra has refused to sign off on the letter and in doing so has made a strong statement that the central politburo should listen to – and start falling on swords and eating humble pie.

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From: John Kennelly

Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 2:09 PM
To: ‘Duecker, Kurt'; Anderson, Thomas; Barclay, Francis; Becton, Diana; Beeman, Paul L.; Benson, Hon. Steven; Bigelow, Molly; Borris, Thomas J.; Bush, Michael G.; Byrd, Donald; Chandler, Christopher; Chouteau, René A.; Christianson, Ronald; Clay, C. Don; Cordova, Ricardo; Devore, David; Du Temple, Eric; Earl, Laurie; Edmon, Lee S.; Edwards, Anthony; Eller, Stanley L.; Ellsworth, Sherrill A.; Feinstein, Katherine; Follett, William; Freeman, Beth; Givens, Debra; Harlan, Susan; Henderson, Richard J.; Herrick, David; Hilde, Janet; Hill, Brian E.; Hoff, Gary; Kingsbury, Suzanne; LaBarbera, PJ Barry; LaPorte, James; Lehman, William D.; Loftus, Richard Jr.; Martin, John E.; Masunaga, Laura; McCabe, Brian; O’Neill, Jr., Vincent J.; Pineschi, Alan; Price, Diane M.; Reed, Melinda; Rigby, Mitchell; Ritchie, James R.; Roberts, Timothy; Rosenberg, David; Salazar, John S.; Scheuler, Richard; Sokol, Donald; Stout, PJ Dean; Thompson, Jeffrey; Tobias, Harry; Trentacosta, Robert J.; Walton, Dana; Warner, Hon. David; Watson, W. Bruce
Cc: Carlson, Alan; Hershkowitz, Donna; Finke, Chad; Smith, Marlene; Ortega, Claudia; Amador – Heather Korsgaard; Armstrong, Cindy; Barnes, Joyce; Butler, Priscilla; Calaveras – Pamela Colton; Christian, Arita; Colusa – Carol French; Costa, Terry; Fresno – Rose Flores; Gieck, Mona; Gwaltney, Deborah; Lee Kirby; Humboldt – Harla Santos; Bird, Virginia; Kern – Dorothy Banks; Hernandez, Hope; Kings – Nancy Rizo; Lassen – Nancy Holsey; Linderman, Sandy; Madera – Fili Samuelu; Mariposa – Desire Leard; Martin, Richard C.; McCoy, KC; Mendocino – Sally Nevarez; Monterey – Nona Medina; Mortensen, Kelly; Napa – Connie Brennan; Nevada – Hilary Berardi; Ostoja, Linda; Pedregon, Gloria; Placer – Yvonne Yoshikawa; Riverside – Virginia Magana; Roger, Catalina; Sacramento – Gwenda Ornelas; San Bernardino – Alvina Hollensbe; San Luis Obispo – Jan Michael; San Mateo – Bianca Fasuescu; Santa Barbara – Josefina Martinez; Santa Cruz – Sue Huckins; Serena, Marisela; Solano – Toni McDaniels; Sonoma – Julie Wilcox; Stanislaus – Amy Middleton; Stanislaus – Denise Davis; Graham, Diane; Tulare – Ellen Kennedy; Ventura – Irma Berneathy; Warren, Cynthia; Wasson, Diana; Wilson, Asa; Allen, Peter
Subject: RE: FINAL LETTER: PJ-CEO May Revise Response

Hello:

I have really been struggling with signing off on this letter.  Basically, I am struggling with our continued arrogance and demands when we should be apologizing and taking responsibility for the situation we have created, just like the lecture we give criminal defendants who appear in front of us.

While I was preparing my response to the request to sign off on this letter, my APJ received this e-mail.  Please understand that Sierra County is a two judge court and my APJ has been a judge for 17 months and is still just trying to learn how to be a judge:

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From: Duecker, Kurt [mailto:Kurt.Duecker@jud.ca.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 12:26 PM
To: Charles Ervin
Subject: FW: PJ response to May revise

Hello Judge Ervin:

Staff has not heard back from Judge Kennelly on the email below, and Judge Rosenberg has asked to check with you to see if he received the email and is available to respond. And if he is unavailable, would you be able to respond for Sierra on his behalf. We would need to hear back by 3:00 p.m. today.

Sorry for the short notice and any inconvenience.

Thank you,
Kurt

Kurt Duecker
Senior Court Services Analyst
Court Programs and Services Division – Trial Court Leadership Services (TCLS) Unit
Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
415-865-xxxx, FAX 415-865-xxxxkurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov<mailto:kurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov>
www.courts.ca.gov
“Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians”
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This is going over the line in attempting to have all 58 counties be in lock step.

So, unless Kurt wants to sign off on behalf of Sierra County, I respectfully decline to sign the letter.

In doing so, I make the following points and comments:

 1.  These types of letters have lost their effectiveness.  What effect have the previous letters had on the governor and the legislature?  This letter repeats the obvious.  Also, we are now viewed as the chicken who cried wolf too many times.
 2.  I think it is OK for some PJ’s to agree to disagree on the positions the TCPJAC takes.  It is my understanding that in approximately 15 years the Ronald George Judicial Council had one dissenting vote on one motion.  This “marching in step with the party line” is part of the reason we are in this trouble.
 3.  The governor and the legislature have stopped listening to our whining.  Why?  Because we have not gone hat in hand to them and admitted what a fiasco and mistake CCMS was to our branch financially, that we are sorry we spent approximately $540 million of taxpayers money and it has not achieved what we promised it would, it won’t happen again and in the future we will provide a proper accounting of where our money goes.
 4.  This letter does not acknowledge that the Branch should take its fair share of responsibility for the predicament we are in.  We need to look at this from the governor’s and legislature’s perspective, which is that somehow we spent $540 million on a program that will not be used as it was intended.  They will not be sympathetic to our situation until they have confidence we will not do this again.  By the way, how did this happen?  I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer about how CCMS got this far with no benchmarks or accountability.
 5.  If at this point the governor and the legislature do not understand how our “reserve accounts” work, then we have only ourselves to blame.  Why haven’t our government affairs people and financial people been able to get them to understand?

Thank you.

Hon. John P. Kennelly
Presiding Judge
(email redacted)

Sierra Superior Court
P.O. Box 476
Downieville, CA  95936
Phone:  530-x8x-xxxx
Fax:  530-x8x-xxxx

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From: Duecker, Kurt [mailto:Kurt.Duecker@jud.ca.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 1:54 PM
To: Anderson, Thomas; Barclay, Francis; Becton, Diana; Beeman, Paul L.; Benson, Hon. Steven; Bigelow, Molly; Borris, Thomas J.; Bush, Michael G.; Byrd, Donald; Chandler, Christopher; Chouteau, René A.; Christianson, Ronald; Clay, C. Don; Cordova, Ricardo; Devore, David; Du Temple, Eric; Earl, Laurie; Edmon, Lee S.; Edwards, Anthony; Eller, Stanley L.; Ellsworth, Sherrill A.; Feinstein, Katherine; Follett, William; Freeman, Beth; Givens, Debra; Harlan, Susan; Henderson, Richard J.; Herrick, David; Hilde, Janet; Hill, Brian E.; Hoff, Gary; John Kennelly; Kingsbury, Suzanne; LaBarbera, PJ Barry; LaPorte, James; Lehman, William D.; Loftus, Richard Jr.; Martin, John E.; Masunaga, Laura; McCabe, Brian; O’Neill, Jr., Vincent J.; Pineschi, Alan; Price, Diane M.; Reed, Melinda; Rigby, Mitchell; Ritchie, James R.; Roberts, Timothy; Rosenberg, David; Salazar, John S.; Scheuler, Richard; Sokol, Donald; Stout, PJ Dean; Thompson, Jeffrey; Tobias, Harry; Trentacosta, Robert J.; Walton, Dana; Warner, Hon. David; Watson, W. Bruce
Cc: Carlson, Alan; Hershkowitz, Donna; Finke, Chad; Smith, Marlene; Ortega, Claudia; Amador – Heather Korsgaard; Armstrong, Cindy; Barnes, Joyce; Butler, Priscilla; Calaveras – Pamela Colton; Christian, Arita; Colusa – Carol French; Costa, Terry; Fresno – Rose Flores; Gieck, Mona; Gwaltney, Deborah; Lee Kirby; Humboldt – Harla Santos; Bird, Virginia; Kern – Dorothy Banks; Hernandez, Hope; Kings – Nancy Rizo; Lassen – Nancy Holsey; Linderman, Sandy; Madera – Fili Samuelu; Mariposa – Desire Leard; Martin, Richard C.; McCoy, KC; Mendocino – Sally Nevarez; Monterey – Nona Medina; Mortensen, Kelly; Napa – Connie Brennan; Nevada – Hilary Berardi; Ostoja, Linda; Pedregon, Gloria; Placer – Yvonne Yoshikawa; Riverside – Virginia Magana; Roger, Catalina; Sacramento – Gwenda Ornelas; San Bernardino – Alvina Hollensbe; San Luis Obispo – Jan Michael; San Mateo – Bianca Fasuescu; Santa Barbara – Josefina Martinez; Santa Cruz – Sue Huckins; Serena, Marisela; Solano – Toni McDaniels; Sonoma – Julie Wilcox; Stanislaus – Amy Middleton; Stanislaus – Denise Davis; Graham, Diane; Tulare – Ellen Kennedy; Ventura – Irma Berneathy; Warren, Cynthia; Wasson, Diana; Wilson, Asa; Allen, Peter
Subject: FINAL LETTER: PJ-CEO May Revise Response

(Sent on Behalf of Judge Rosenberg, Chair, TCPJAC)

Presiding Judges:

The joint letter from PJs and CEOs to the Legislature has been revised a fourth time to address concerns regarding the use of trial court reserves.  Specifically, a new last paragraph has been added to inform the Legislature of the importance of trial courts being able to carry forward funds.  This new paragraph is highlighted in yellow below.  This version of the letter is being sent to both PJs and CEOs simultaneously.

If you have agreed to be added as a signatory to an earlier draft of this letter, you will be considered to be in support of this version unless you indicate otherwise.  Consequently, your response to this e-mail is only needed if you have not previously responded or if you would like to change your previous response.  In the hope of submitting this letter to the Legislature today, please convey any changes in your position (i.e., oppose to support or support to oppose) to Kurt Duecker at kurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov<mailto:kurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov> by 3:30 p.m. today.

Best regards,
Judge David Rosenberg (Chair, TCPJAC)

May 15, 2012

Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Governor of California
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Members of the California State Legislature
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: Judicial Branch Budget

Dear Governor Brown, Senators, and Assembly Members:

Over the past four years the judicial branch has received a staggering $653 million in ongoing budget reductions.  In fiscal year 2011-12, with the addition of one-time sweeps and loans to the General Fund, the branch provided over $1.1 billion in budget solutions to address the state budget shortfall – from a total budget of $3.1 billion.

Four successive years of unprecedented budget cuts have put justice at risk in California. The proposed additional cuts in the May Revise threaten to dismantle our system of justice entirely. As the constitutional policymaking body of the California courts, the Judicial Council is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the consistent, independent, impartial, and accessible administration of justice. But we alone cannot meet that charge. The judicial branch depends on our sister branches of government to provide an appropriate level of funding to allow us to meet our constitutional and statutory obligations to California’s 38 million residents, to ensure access to a forum to resolve disputes, get restraining orders to protect against violence, serve our criminal justice system, protect the safety and rights of children and the elderly, and much, much more. We urge you to protect access to justice for the people of California by rejecting further cuts.

These additional reductions will seriously impact the judicial branch’s ability to fulfill its role of delivering justice. As the Chief Justice noted in her recent State of the Judiciary Address:
“We need the courts to be open. When homes are lost and jobs are taken and services are eliminated, people rightly come to the courts and have an expectation that there will be justice for all. . . .

More than ever, the judicial branch must serve as the safety net for a democratic and civil society.  Yet judges do not get to choose the number or kinds of cases that come before us.  In fact, the cruel irony is that the economic forces that have led to budget reductions to the courts are the same ones that drive more of our residents to court.  They seek help with evictions, debt collection, and modifications of child support orders. . . .

As Californians lose their livelihoods and as the California dream disintegrates for some, they rightly come to the courts for restoration of lost resources and dignity. . . .

In times like these, after four successive years of severe reductions, we have “closed” signs on courtrooms and clerks offices in 24 counties around the state.”

Trial Courts recognize that the consequences of ongoing fiscal crisis must be shared by everyone. We will continue to look to available, existing branch resources to help us make it through these difficult times.  But those resources will not be sufficient, and the cuts targeted for the judicial branch will have catastrophic, far-reaching impacts on our ability to preserve equal access to justice for all Californians. That is why Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers representing _____ of the 58 California Trial Courts have agreed to add their names to this letter.

And there is one more huge concern to trial courts expressed in a Finance Letter dated May 14.  The Department of Finance proposes to eliminate one of the basic and historic tenets of trial court funding – the ability to carry forward funds.  The proposal sets the trial courts back to the 19th Century “spend it or lose it” model of government funding. Without this ability many of our trial courts would now be in truly dire straits.  This abandonment of carry forward is a retreat from smart government we cannot afford.  It removes an incentive to operate more efficiently, kills the best stimulus for innovation we have found so far, and thereby severely weakens fiscal accountability for trial courts.

Kurt Duecker
Senior Court Services Analyst
Court Programs and Services Division – Trial Court Leadership Services (TCLS) Unit
Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
415-865-xxxx, FAX 415-865-xxxxkurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov<mailto:kurt.duecker@jud.ca.gov>
www.courts.ca.gov
“Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians”

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