A short walk down memory lane…..

Posted on June 13, 2012

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Let’s see if we can’t build on this list started by the Alliance of California Judges

June 12, 2012

Dear Members and Others:

We thought you might enjoy taking a walk down memory lane with the Alliance of California Judges as we consider some memorable quotes from the not-too-distant past, and some from the present.  The list is long, so this will be part one of two.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges

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Then Chief Justice Ronald George said that any attempt to democratize selection of Judicial Council members and reduce his appointment power would be considered a “declaration of war.” George said that “the remark had its intended effect.” California Courts in Review, Spring 2006.

“Everything is vetted. Everything goes out for public comment,” said (Council Member and then Appellate Justice) Cantil-Sakauye in February. “We seek public comment on every proposal, every rule, every idea.”  ABC News, July 21, 2010.

“First, during this review of the AOC, criticisms were received that Judicial Council meetings often were perceived to be tightly scripted, with little opportunity for meaningful debate, and led to preordained and unanimous votes.”  SEC Report, Page 42.

“The top-level decision making process of the AOC became insular, with a top-down management style limiting input from those within the organization. The agency also failed to value the input of or engage in true collaboration with the trial courts.”  Report of the SEC Committee, Page 2.

“All California state courts will be closed today, September 16, 2009, as a cost-savings measure to help courts cope with unprecedented budget reductions in the judicial branch of government.” Judicial Council/AOC press release, Sept. 9, 2009.

“Chief Justice Ronald George said in a recent meeting with Times editors that the L.A. County Superior Court’s position is ‘very much misguided’ and called (presiding judge) McCoy’s forecasts of impending closures and layoffs a ‘Chicken Little approach.’”  Los Angeles Times, Feb. 16, 2010.

“Judge McCoy is somebody who I like as a person, but I think he’s very much on a crusade,” he said. “I think it’s very interesting that no other court has claimed that there will be such calamitous results if these funds aren’t used.”  Chief Justice George to LA Times Reporter, Feb. 16, 2010.

Cutbacks have made the court system “hard-pressed to provide accessible justice,” (George) told lawmakers.” Associated Press, Feb. 23, 2010, on Chief George’s State of the Judiciary Speech.

“The judiciary is not represented by the few strident and uninformed voices that occasionally emerge as e-mail strings on the fringe of the judiciary.”  Ronald George, Feb. 23, 2010 State of the Judiciary speech.

“Los Angeles Superior Court Lays off 329 Employees.” LA Times blog, March 8, 2010.

“California has been trying to close its staggering deficit with a series of drastic budget cuts, and the pain has been especially deep for people who have business with the state’s courts.” National Pulblic Radio, May 13, 2010.

Chief Justice George said he “could not in good conscience” step down from his post if the judiciary “remained enmeshed in a severe budget crisis.”  Speech to State Bar in July 2010, announcing his retirement.

“Reflection convinced me now is the right time — while I am at the top of my game — to leave while the proverbial music still plays.”   Former Chief Justice Ron George on his retirement, San Francico Chronicle, July 15, 2010.

“George insisted that his critics played no role in his decision (to retire), and to quit because of some unhappy constituents would be like “canceling a trip to Yosemite because there are ants on the trail.”  California Bar Journal, August 2010.

“(O)btaining a stable and adequate source of funding for our courts without a doubt would be one of the most important reforms in the California justice system in the 20th century. Those high expectations certainly have been met.”  Chief George on the passing of the 1997 State Trial Court Funding Act, Metropolitan News, Sept. 27, 2010.

“People are operating in the dark around the state,” Roddy said. “It’s very frustrating, with a capital ‘V (sic).” San Diego Union Tribune, June 7, 2010, quoting Judicial Council member and San Diego CEO/CFO Mike Roddy.

“AOC’s three regional administrative directors who report to Vickrey, Sheila Calabro, Christine Patton, and Jody Patel also saw big pay bumps, each receiving 10 percent increases in that 2008-2009 time period, bringing their base salaries to $198,708 a year.  Philip Carrizosa, a spokesman for the AOC, said in an e-mail that some of the outsized raises were necessary to keep top-level employees. He said others received big raises because of ‘increased job responsibilities,’ even though their job titles did not change.”  Daily Journal, Dec. 9, 2009.

“On this point, I think the Alliance is correct – the Legislature did ask the Judicial Council to draft a Trial Court Bill of Financial Management Rights and the council never did that. The finance policy quoted by Kasley specifies nothing about those rights.  All we can do is emphasize that the finance policy recognizes that each trial court is responsible for managing its own operations. Good luck in selling this approach to Ken.”  AOC spokesman Phillip Carrizosa internal email in December, 2009, that was mistakenly sent by the AOC to reporter Ken Offgang of the Metropolitan News.

“(Council member) Judge Erica Yew from Santa Clara County took an opposing view (from those urging greater cuts of the AOC) and attacked the salaries of her fellow judges.  She also defended the bureaucrats, saying the AOC is “a group of well intentioned, well-run and well-led people.”  Courthouse News, July 22, 2011, reporting on the July 2011 meeting of the Judicial Council.

“California Courts Agency Called Dysfunctional.”  AP headline, May 30, 2012.

“‘I’ve struggled over whether this is a pay raise,’ said Cantil-Sakauye, who noted that members of the committee considering the raises discussed the matter for two and a half hours before recommending in favor. ‘I see it as if I make a hundred dollars and give up eight, then I get three dollars back — that’s not a raise as I understand it.'” Courthouse News Service, Oct. 29, 2010, reporting on retroactive AOC pay raises granted by the Accountability Committee chaired by then Appellate Justice Cantil Sakauye.

“‘They can call it whatever they want,’ said Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne Gilliard, who watched a telecast of the meeting. ‘At the end of the day if your check was $1,000 and now its $1,200 that’s a pay raise. I think this game of parsing the language is a big reason why the public is so disgusted with those people who are in power.'”  Courthouse News Service, Oct. 29, 2010.

“Chief, I’d like to, uh, move approval of the recommendations, and I have just—some of the discussions we’ve had recently and some of the public discussions, um, I think for the record we need to stop and think for a moment—the Administrative Office of the Courts and its staff, in cooperation with the other governmental agencies has done an extraordinary job here and undertaken a–a virtually mammoth responsibility as you pointed out, with a tiny fraction of the staff, and so sometimes it makes—speaking for myself—makes me a little weary when some clown’s worried about whether or not somebody got a step increase two years ago in an outfit that’s putting in tremendous work with less resources, less staff than any other governmental agency would do, and does a (unintelligible) damn well better job…”   Justice Richard Huffman, commenting on AOC pay raises at the Council Meeting of Jan. 21, 2010.

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Link of the Day: SF Court workers from SEIU 1021 demands the AOC return to the bargaining table. (Note: If you don’t know Ken Couch please look into his background. You have his first, last and final offer and he really truly honestly does not give a rats ass about rank and file employees. Negotiating in good faith is beyond him.)