These comments include both the California Judges Association and the Alliance of California Judges who both recommend immediate implementation of most, if not all of the SEC report. These two recommendations from both judges groups represent the views of nearly all judges, justices, referees and commissioners across the state – both active and retired.
This is nothing short of a mandate for immediate reform and a rout on the AOC and the Judicial Council’s attempt at enlisting mercenaries to fight their battle for them.
NOTE: The AOC has moved the comments to past proposals and a new web page. http://www.courts.ca.gov/18441.htm
State Bar / AOC Template – Bronx Cheer
State Bar / AOC Template – Bronx Cheer
“For the survival of the California judiciary, all of the SEC recommendations should be
Mr. Pierce is correct. The AOC fixes court cases by financially intimidating courts and should be probed.
This comment has been censored by the AOC to remove the name “Jack Halpin” a twice – retired 19 year judicial appointee of the AOC.
This comment has been censored by the AOC to remove the name “Jack Halpin” a twice – retired 19 year judicial appointee of the AOC.
This comment has been censored to remove CFCC trainer and court involved therapist Michael Fraga, a three time convicted felon determined unfit to perform medical examinations for simple workers compensation claims by the department of industrial relations. Astonishingly, he is considered fit to work with the courts and make life altering decisions for parents and children.
It makes one wonder how many convicted felons work for the AOC.
“When the SEC report was first released, I was heartened to know that my viewpoint regarding these many issues did indeed have a voice. Unfortunately, since that time, it has become clear that this well considered report is being viewed as something to resist, rather than a roadmap back to credibility.”
A Standing Ovation Analysis of the first 471 comments.
376 of 404 Judges/Commissioners Responding Favored Full or Near Full Implementation (92%)
ACJ and CJA Favor Full Implementation–The combined membership of these two organizations comprises virtually every bench officer in the state of California
Los Angeles Superior Court and San Francisco Superior Court Favor Full Implementation
18 of 21 court employees favored total or near-total implementation
5 of 12 Justices were strongly supportive of the recommendations
The California Trial Courts Consortium, with 25 Member Courts Consisting of the smaller Courts in California, favors core implementation, and favors returning the AOC to its core functions
0 1 of 6 current or former AOC employees favored full implementation
0 of 1 AOC committees (CJER governing committee) favored full implementation
0 Advocacy Groups and Bar Associations Favor Full Implementation
A very substantial number of judges and others made the unsolicited observation the Judicial Council must be democratized and/or that the SEC report failed to go far enough.
“The painful process of extracting information from the AOC shows how far that body has strayed from its initial mission. Instead of serving the courts the AOC has become obsessed with self preservation. As a result, access to justice has suffered. Misplacement of priorities is common in large bureaucracies and the AOC is no exception. Transparency is paramount if the branch hopes to regain the trust of the public and the other two branches of government.“
“I agree with the findings in the SEC report that the AOC operates without adequate oversight, is too large and inefficient, and I urge you to immediately implement the changes recommended, without any delay”
“Over the years it is now well documented that the AOC evolved after unification into a administrative fiefdom.”
State Bar / AOC Template Bronx Cheer
State Bar / AOC Template Bronx Cheer
You must read Judge Forcum’s latest comments. Standing Ovation!
A worthy suggestion for a blueprint of a future AOC
State Bar / AOC Template Bronx Cheer
JCW – The issue here ladies and gentlemen is that these same services were competently delivered to the appellate courts when the AOC only had 400 or so employees – and you know that to be true.
Perennial JC Suck-up and insider wants no change
You must read Judge Antolini’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“The system is sorely in need of dramatic change, and the earlier we make the changes needed the sooner we can all get on the path to recovery and a healthier, more functional judicial system. Further delay and study would only result in greater erosion of the respect and faith the citizens and politicians of this state have for judges and the judicial branch. None of us can afford that, especially during these difficult times.”
“The layoffs of so many valuable employees and the closure of necessary courts is directly attributed to the abuse of power and over wasteful spending of the AOC which has ballooned out of control leaving our courts with insufficient resources to serve the public.”
You must read Judge Tia Fisher’s entire response in full. Standing Ovation!
JCW’s note to Commissioner Wightman: When the baby is “chucky” you toss the baby with the bathwater. Additionally, there is no need for a do-over of the entire SEC report. This suggestion is irresponsible.
“The Judicial Council is not a governing body and must show strict oversighty of the AOC. Judicial Council has the sole constitutional duty to survey “…judicial business, making recommendations, adopoting uniform rules of court not inconsistent with statute”(Article Vi, Section 6d). It is imperative this be done immediately. Thank you.”
JCW : AOC apologist sees nothing wrong!
You must read Judge Eric Taylor’s comments in full. Standing Ovation!
State Bar / AOC Template response (slightly enhanced) Bronx Cheer
To quote Unionman575 – deet da dee.
“I write in support of expeditious adoption of the recommendations in the SEC Report. Our branch needs to regain lost credibility.”
“Many judges within the State have broad and diverse backgrounds. I myself have managed over a thousand soldiers as a battalion commander in the US Army. It didn’t take me long as a brand new 2nd LT in the Army to figure out the HQ Company (which provides all the training and logistic support, much like the AOC) was there to support the line units (trial courts), and not the other way around.”
You must read Judge John Somers comments in full. Standing Ovation!
“The judiciary has been burdened by an overstaffed and overpaid AOC for too long. All of the SEC recommendations should be implemented immediately. The widespread perception is the Judicial Council is largely comprised of handpicked stooges, luxuriously wined and dined into a state of somnolence, while the AOC runs amok. In view of it’s dismal record of oversight, I am skeptical that the Judicial Council, as presently constituted, will act.” JCW- We omitted the follow-up recommendation of Judicial Council Democracy not because we don’t agree with it – because we do. Justice O’Rourke simply didn’t have enough representatives for the democratized JC to be fully representative in our minds.
“The time for studies and comments has long past. The fact that we are even having a comment period on the SEC report is symptomatic of the problems with the governance of the Judicial Branch. The common sense proposals submitted by the SEC should have been implemented by the Judicial Council without the need for a fourteen month investigation and report let alone a subsequent comment period. It is a further indication that the Judicial Council does not recognize the need for change.”
First, we wish to commend the AOC for posting this comment at all. Second, we want you to read the first part carefully. He is replying to an email from Justice Miller whom I am gathering was attempting to enlist some support in light of the carnage listed elsewhere on this page. Now how fair is that when Justice Miller goes out and solicits support for a study he is supposedly conducting an independent review of? Was it simply an email asking them to submit comments or was it an email asking for support, just like the rest of 2DCA delivered? Thank You Justice Epstein for your support of the SEC.
State Bar / AOC Template response. Bronx Cheer
“The greatest failure of all is failure to act when action is needed. Use the information you’ve acquired in the past through the experiences you’ve had and act with self-control—but act.” John Wooden
You should read the balance of Judge Laforteza’s comments. Standing Ovation!
JCW – Mr. Streeters letter, though we don’t necessarily agree with many of his conclusions, was not the AOC / State Bar template. Some of his conclusions are well reasoned. Others? Not so much. But what we saw in his letter is something we’ve advocated from the onset and that is the complete replacement of the entire AOC management team. Not a re-arranging of deck chairs but outright terminations of all directors, assistant directors, senior managers and managers bar none. It’s worth reading.
“Setting aside any residual rancor and distrust, let us move forward in a cooperative and collegial spirit to ensure that we institute these necessary reforms as quickly as practicable. The people of the State of California are counting on us all.”
JCW – Another irresponsible advocate of the do-over of the SEC report because she didn’t like the result. Bronx Cheer
State Bar / AOC Template response Bronx Cheer
A very thoughtful, analytical response and well worth reading. Standing Ovation!
A seriously flawed analysis.
“It is time to act. To dither is to wither. The concerns of the small courts regarding diversity and funding can easily be resolved.”
“[Implementing] The report is only a partial, initial step. Membership of the Council must be changed so that judges who have backgrounds in counseling businesses are appointed. All members of the Council must devote at least three days a month in teams to investigate and actively oversee particular functions of the Branch. Hands-off oversight will not correct the current problems, nor will it keep the Branch on the right course.”
You must read Judge Frawley’s reply. Standing Ovation!
Another irresponsible suggestion for a do-over.
You must read Judge Halls additional comments. Standing Ovation!
State Bar / AOC template reponse. Bronx Cheer.
You must read Judge Finlay’s comments. Standing Ovation!
Delay implementation by studying the report to its demise.
“In my view, the report could not be more compelling.”
“Adoption and implementation of the SEC report is a unique and rare opportunity for Judicial branch to demonstrate that it has not only the courage and humility to engage in a serious, objective and thorough self examination, but also the common sense to act decisively on the findings and recommendations of such an examination in the best interest of the public it serves. The important benefits of taking this action are clear. Credibility with the Executive and Legislative branches will be enhanced, and more importantly, public confidence and trust in the Judicial branch will be strengthened.”
“The Governor, the Legislature and a majority of the judges of this state have clearly demonstrated a loss of confidence in the judiciary’s ability to self-govern and to give direction to its staff. It is time to face the hard truth revealed in the SEC report and deal with it without excuses, delays, half-measures and hand wringing. Our concern must be for the survival of our branch. This crisis presents not just a danger to the survival of an effective judiciary but also an opportunity to change our course and demonstrate a healthy respectable judiciary. Establishing diversity on the Judicial Council through democratization would be a tremendous benefit in the implementation of the SEC recommendations.”
You should read the balance of Judge Harman’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“Ignoring the SEC report is a disgrace to the judiciary.”
You must read Judge Khans comments. Standing Ovation!
“The public funds spent on the top heavy AOC will be better spent on the judicial system that actually serves the public.”
“It would be most counterproductive and damaging to not implement the Committee’s recommendations after all their time and analysis. We all face a good opportunity to show that the AOC is not just a bloated, out of touch and non-responsive organization. It is important that all judges have a sense that the AOC is indeed working for their best interests, is transparent in its structure and operations and is worthy of the trust and respect of judges, legislators and state and county officials. Adoption of the SEC recommendations is a solid place to start.”
“Is this not the precise task we, as bench officers, undertake each day: to do that which is right and consistent with our charge even in the face of likely criticism to ourselves?”
“I believe that it is imperative to implement the suggested changes in an immediate, significant and sustained manner in order to restore trust and credibility in our judicial branch administration.”
“The Strategic Evaluation Committee Report provides an excellent blueprint for much needed reform and would go a long way to restoring the public’s, legislation’s & the court employee’s faith in the Judicial Branch.” Thank you for your input Ms. Burriss.
“The inescapable conclusion is that its recommendations should be implemented immediately. A failure to so do would be incomprehensible and undoubtedlywould result in a loss of public confidence in our leadership and our collective judgment.”
“I support the swift implementation of the recommendations of the SEC.”
The Judicial Council has known since receipt of the independent audit by the California State Auditor in February 2011 that the AOC, as an agency, is not competent, is unable to exercise proper fiscal management of monetary resources, and is unwilling to be transparent, accountable, and efficient in its operations and practices.
You should read the balance of Judge Burger-Plavan’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“I strongly urge the Judicial Council to adopt all of the SEC Report Recommendations as quickly as practical.”
“I urge the immediate implementation of the recommendation of the Strategic Evaluation Committee. We need to restore the public’s trust in the judicial branch.”
It makes perfect sense to me, therefore, that the Judicial Council should govern the acts of the AOC rather than the other way around. As such, it is critical that the Judicial Council be an independently and democratically selected body to effectuate the necessary checks and balances.
You should read the balance of Judge Cole’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“By streamlining the AOC, emphasizing core functions and working towards improving the functionality of the courts themselves, the AOC diverts the focus from administration for the sake of having an dministrative body, and towards an effective judiciary.”
“I wish to emphasize the importance of the specific recommendations made by the Los Angeles Superior Court at the top of page two regarding the need for change now without regard to who the new Administrative Director eventually will be, and the need for implementation of an Administrative Director selection process that will result in a new Administrative Director who will be fully dedicated to the goals set forth in the SEC Report.“
“The future effectiveness of the AOC and the Judicial Council, both in terms of their capabilities and the confidence of the judges of the branch, require action as proposed in the report.”
“We have only to look to the recent financial crises in municipal government to see that failure to make immediate systemic and financial changes can lead to total collapse.”
“I have been on the bench for over 15 years. No matter how you want to “sweeten” the pill, the truth is now known. AOC is a bloated bureaucracy and became one due to the neglectful oversight of the Judicial Council. It has been shameful to watch its waste of taxpayer money. The buck stops with the Judicial Council and its time that it developed a backbone.”
“When it is late in the day, and there remained a courtroom full of people, and the pace of calling cases absurdly approaches reality-show auctioneers … are we surrendering all decorum? When we see the discomfort of support staff, as positions on seniority lists drop, as they finish work originally performed by two-three-four persons … are we abandoning common decency? When we so proudly enforce principles set forth in the Constitution, yet deny access to these rights by closing doors and indefinitely continuing cases … are we denying justice? When we are continually asked to do so much more with so much less, while management bloatedly mismanages, while limited resources are redirected … are we defiling the checks and balances in the three branches of government?
… the Strategic Evaluation Committee report needs to be implemented immediately.”
“This report is clearly not a “snapshot in time,” but a completed portrait of the failure of branch leadership. Note that I say “leadership” and not those dedicated staffers who work in the trenches.”
You must read Judge Kent Hamlin’s response in full. Standing Ovation.
You must read Judge John Adams’s response in full. Standing Ovation.
State Bar / AOC Template Response . Bronx Cheer.
Please note that this is the entire court of the City & County of San Francisco.
Give yourselves a standing ovation.
State Bar / AOC Template Response . Bronx Cheer.
“The Report has confirmed that Judicial Council’s unacceptable delegations of responsibilities and authority to the AOC has lead to the establishment of self-created bureaucracy that has attempted to assert an authority over local courts that it does not possess.”
“The need for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the SEC is so obvious that further comment would be superfluous.”
“While the services we provide to the public are being drastically reduced, an out of control bureaucracy remains intact. Reform is needed now.“
“What the judicial branch has been subjected to by the AOC – incrementally but inexorably – is exposure to a virus that has sapped the vitality and strength of the judicial branch to feed its own misguided objectives. What we have ended up with is a case of the tail wagging the dog.”
“I believe its altogether appropriate that someone in a position to cause a Grand Jury Investigation, (or Little Hoover Commission) into the CCMS debacle, do so.”
“Judges, who have raised concerns about the abuses of the AOC, have been ignored for years. Now the Judicial Council has been provided with overwhelming evidence of the need for swift, decisive, and comprehensive reforms. Each delay in the implementation of the necessary reforms enables the AOC to continue to mismanage valuable public resources. Now is the time for the Judicial Council to accept its responsibility to restore confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch.”
“The SEC recommendations should be adopted without further delay, limitations or the need for clarification. Undoubtedly, difficult and unpopular decisions need to be made. We must be mindful that our survival as a fully functioning co-equal branch of government is at stake.”
“There has already been much discussion over the last few years on what to do with the problems besetting our judiciary. We must not wait any longer. In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, Andy tells Red, “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying.” We are dying as the third branch of government. We need to get busy living.”
The AOC is a bloated and ineffective bureaucracy that has lost touch with its constituency and core mission. Please put aside the self deception about the agency and adopt the recommendations of the SEC report.
JCW: Now here is some real meat and potatoes talk about fairness, diversity and access to justice. Standing Ovation!
“The county of Fresno has closed all of its regional courts to save money. The county of Tulare has closed some of its regional courts to save money. This is of great concern to me because it is clear that many folks of limited means will be denied access to the courts. For example, asking a single mother of three who has to make a mandatory appearance to address a failure to appear for a charge of driving without a license can become an insurmountable challenge for her. If she lacks the funds for transportation, to travel say 100 miles round trip from home to the court in the county seat, or for child care, her problems only escalate.
The unemployment rate in Delano, where I preside, borders at 30%. Given the regular increases in fees and assessments that are attached to fines it appears the least able are being asked to absorb more of the burden to address the state’s deficit woes. The needs of the litigants must come first. I have been happy with the services provided by the AOC in the past. However, in these difficult times, it is important that all Californians, rich and poor, have equal access to the law.”
“I am voting against the status quo. I’m voting against slow reform.” The Chief requested this study and hand picked the people to do it. They did a very thorough and thoughtful job. But since it turned out to be critical of the AOC, the Judicial Council decided to refer it to committee to “study the study.” And if that too is critical of the AOC, then are we then going to have a study of the study of the study? ??? When does it end? I was personally embarrassed that the Judicial Council could not even bring themselves to vote in favor of general concept that they should supervise and oversee the AOC.
State Bar / AOC Template Response . Bronx Cheer.
Thank you for your input Mr. Denton. :)
“There have been two reports critical of the AOC, one by the state auditor and the other by the Strategic Evaluation Committee. Further studies, comments and questionnaires should cease. It is time for action by the Judicial Council. The AOC needs to understand that they work for the judges, not the other way around. It is obvious that the AOC is out of control and has been for a number of years.”
Well worth reading the whole reply. Standing Ovation!
State Bar / AOC Template Response . Bronx Cheer.
“It may require a degree of humility to accept the criticisms in the report rather than to reflexively defend against them. That measure of humility could also be considered as a measure of greatness for the Judicial Council. The arrogance and dishonesty shown by the AOC has deeply wounded the integrity of the Judicial branch. The SEC report shows how we can begin to mend.”
“My major complaint regarding the AOC is that its actions are premised on an erroneous definition of “judicial independence.” This incorrect premise is that the term “independence” refers to an amorphous branch, when actually it pertains to the ability of an individual judge or justice to make a well considered decision without fear of personal repercussion for making that call. This has and always will always be the hallmark of a just and fair judiciary. To allow a bloated bureaucracy to increase its power and control over the bench in the name of institutional “independence” is inimical to this hallowed concept. Managing jurists, it has been said, is like “herding cats,” which is the way it should be as it insures the individual independence of each bench officer.”
Well worth reading the whole reply. Standing Ovation!
JCW: You’re kidding, right? Wait. You’re not kidding. Bronx Cheer.
JCW: AOC apologist believes that the rest of you couldn’t have read the SEC report. While we admit that Malcolm Franklin is a stand-up guy for a former spook, ERS has meddled in places where their tentacles didn’t belong including the operations of this site. ERS does not need to exist as a unit. They can be re-formed and folded anywhere in the current organizational structure.
“I am concerned that delay to adopting and implementing the recommendations will further risk the reputation of the judicial branch with the public and the other two branches of government. This prospect will unnecessarily risk the independence of the judicial branch. In this time of stress to our institutions, it is essential that we act promptly and effectively and be seen to have done so.”
“Will Rogers once said: “When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” While I recognize and applaud the efforts of the AOC and the Judicial Council in their sincere attempts to improve our state’s judicial system, it is painfully clear by the SEC Report that these attempts, in considerable part, have been misguided and/or ineffective. Clearly, reform is needed. It simply stretches one’s credulity to suggest otherwise.”
“I have been working in the court system since 1977, and have been a judge since 1997. I’ve had an opportunity to witness first hand the “before” and “after” of the AOC. The “before” version of the AOC was a support organization that served the judges and courts of our state. The “after” version seems to have lost its way. These recommendations have been studied and surveyed and ”committee’d” with the apparent hope on somebody’s part that they simply go away. As the many voices of my colleagues will attest, their time has come.”
JCW Point of order: How does one conduct affairs in the aloha spirit when one party is fundamentally dishonest?
The Need for change in AOC is now; please do not disregard the many voices calling for immediate and necessary changes that are well overdue.
JCW:Thank you Ms. Banks for your input
Hon. Douglas V. Mewhinney (Ret.), Superior Court of Calaveras County - A Member of the Strategic Evaluation Committee
“I have watched with dismay as the AOC has attempted to expand its authority beyond what is authorized by Article VI §6 of the California Constitution. I urged the Judicial Council to accept and adopt the recommendations of the report of the SEC. I further urge the Chief Justice to propose a constitutional amendment that the Judicial Council be an elected body with diversity in membership to allow all the courts, both large and small to have a legitimate and effective voice in properly controlling the AOC and limiting its role to that which is prescribed in Article VI §6 of the California Constitution”
An idea worth consideration.
JCW: Empirical proof that if you give a judge enough time to thoroughly analyze the SEC report with ample time to comment, it is going to come down on you reading like a supreme court decision NOT in your favor.
The analysis provided by the Superior Court of Los Angeles is a grand slam, a must read and worthy of a Standing Ovation!
You must read Judge Stephen Czuleger’s response in full. Standing Ovation!
“As a newer judge, I have watched quietly from the sidelines for the past few years to try to determine what the proper course of action would be. The report sets forth numerous bold and clear reforms that, if implemented, would begin to restore credibility to the Judicial Council as a governing body and the AOC as an effective institution supporting the judiciary. These reforms also would begin to restore credibility to the branch leadership with the judges around the state and the other branches of government with whom we interact. To do nothing would only prove that the Judicial Council is incapable of reforming the body over which it should preside, and perpetuate a bureaucracy of uncontrolled overindulgence that is now the AOC, with the result that courts across the state are closing and unavailable to allow access to justice by the many deserving citizens of our communities.”
“The Judicial Council’s institutional credibility will inevitably be further eroded if it does not promptly take real, observable, credible, and effective steps to solve the many problems identified through the SEC’s commendable work. Those problems include not only dysfunction within the AOC, but even more significantly, dysfunction in the Judicial Council’s oversight and governance of the AOC and its Administrative Director.”
“The legislature, Governor and public are watching whether the judicial branch can get its fiscal and administrative house in order.”
Mr. Charlie Clausen, Superior Court of Sacramento County - Thank You Mr. Clausen for stepping up to the plate.
“The courtroom I sit in previously was open for small claims five days a week, and handled over 12,000 cases annually. This number amounts to approximately one-fifth of the small claims cases in this County. As of July 1st, however, the small claims calendar has been cut back to three days a week because of layoffs and the need to close courtrooms, forcing worrisome delays in trial setting (beyond the statutorily required 70 days from filing) and unnecessary continuances because of time shortages. This delay in the small claims system violates our core mission to provide access to justice, and will only get worse as the looming budget cuts portend the loss of more experienced staff and courtrooms, and possibly some courthouses. The Council must act quickly.”
“By addressing these issues head on, we not only improve and make more efficient the administrative workings of our branch, but also reestablish credibility with the other government branches. Improved credibility will give us better leverage when we advocate for providing the highest level of judicial services possible.” (JCW- Legislative credibility starts with giving Child and Hershkowitz their walking papers)
“We are working harder with fewer resources and we are doing it well. But the errors and recklessness of the AOC as well as its excesses, have greatly exacerbated these problems. It is an organization that is without discipline, over bloated has failed to meet the needs of a vast number of our courts. In short, there is little respect and no confidence in the AOC by those it is supposed to serve. The Judicial Council has failed to exercise appropriate oversight leading to the tail wagging the dog for far too long .”
JCW - Let’s not bite the hand that feeds us. Gutless.
“A real “leader” would have read that report, taken it to heart and admitted mistakes. Instead the Chief and the great majority of the members of the Judicial Council (also hand picked) have elected to marginalize the report and bury it. It is a testimony to the bench officers of this state that so many of us have come forward urging the Judicial Council to immediately endorse the SEC report and begin implementation. I would hope the Judicial Council would learn from past political history and realize that the SEC report is only a symbol of an AOC that is terribly troubled. (How many employees have left???) One can not help but thin k about President Richard Nixon’s executive dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.”
You must read Ms. Tina Burkhart of the AOC’s response in full. Standing Ovation!
“The time to act is now.If we do not we will lose our ability to govern our own destiny and can expect a revolt both from outside as well as within.”
JCW -They lobbied for you and now you’re lobbying for them. Isn’t that what is fundamentally wrong with the branch? Take your blinders off.
“During the Watergate Investigation which ultimately toppled a President, Deep Throat is famously credited with telling Bob Woodward to “Follow the Money!” That has been a major and historic problem with management of the AOC. No one has been following the money very well. Even a casual familiarity with events of the last few years demonstrates that few have understood or been able to appreciate the significant fiscal impact of many of the AOC’s initiatives. CCMS stands out as the prime example.”
“Full steam ahead.”
“Has not thoughtful consideration been given to the significant operational and personal impacts felt in virtually every courtroom in this State by the numerous terminations and dislocations of court staff? Is our judicial leadership aware of the bewilderment expressed daily in our trial courtrooms by attorneys whose livelihoods and clients’ interests are affected by the foot dragging on the SEC recommendations? These questions have an answer: we need immediate, responsible leadership and action to ensure the integrity and viability of California’s judicial system.”
“The Judicial Branch has suffered immensely because warnings were ignored! It is time to take action and regain the trust of the public. The Judiciary was once viewed as being above the political fray. We are now viewed by the citizenry as a prime example of what is wrong with our government. The Executive and Legislative branches treat us no differently that any of their own subordinate departments. We have failed as a branch. The immediate implementation of the SEC recommendations might “right the sinking ship” that is our Branch. If we do not act now to change direction, there are those who will, without our input, force it upon us.”
“General Colin Powell, an authority on the subject of leadership, has explained why effective leadership requires addressing and solving problems:
Problems have to be solved, not managed. You can’t get away with burying them, minimizing them, reorganizing around them, softening them, or assigning blame somewhere outside your responsibility. You have to make real and effective changes. You can’t fool a GI, you can’t fool a floor worker, and you can’t fool a store cashier. They know when something is wrong, and they know it first. . . . They are waiting for you to find out and do something about it.” You must read the balance of Judge Kuhl’s comments. Standing Ovation!
Thank you for stepping up to the plate Ms. Carillo. :)
“I have been a judge in Los Angeles County for thirty-two years and have sadly seen first hand how the independence of our trial court judges has been reduced by the actions of the AOC and Judicial Council over the past decade. The time is NOW to address the issues raised in the SEC report and adopt the recommendations in total.”
“All of the SEC recommendations should be implemented yesterday, if not sooner.”
“I have been a Commissioner of this Court for Twenty two years and in my view the proposed changes are essential , long overdue and must be implemented at once.”
“Given the financial and other exigencies which dictate the need for significant changes in the way in which the AOC operates and, most importantly, the need for it to be more fully accountable to the judges, who are in turn elected by, and directly accountable to the citizens of this state, there is simply no need for further surveys, studies or reports before the proposed SEC recommendations are implemented.”
You must read the reply of Judge Bobby McNatt. Standing Ovation!
JCW’s note to Judge Harbin-Forte: Welcome to California. You’re not in Mississippi anymore.
“In my 22 plus years as a judge (retired) I have seen the AOC evolve from a helpful, useful and well run state agency into one that is unresponsive, arrogant, and supremely wasteful of the public’s money.”
JCW - Perennial suck-up and judicial council insider – assisted in orchestrating the state bar response. Hear those crickets?
“The Chief assured all of us that the SEC Committee report would be ” the bible” for AOC evaluation and reform.How is it that the Council could fail to adopt even the modest proposal of Judge Wesley at the last Council meeting? Staying with the Chief’s analogy of the Report being “the bible” for reform, I ask this question: Did Moses bring down the Ten Commandments and then put them out for public comment before their adoption?” (JCW – LOL)
“Over time (I have been on the bench for 15 years) the prominence of the AOC seems to have grown enormously, but without its producing anything of value to the courts that I can identify. In fact, when I am obliged to think of the AOC at all, I think of the scandal – there is no other word – of the misadministration of its budget to the disadvantage of the court system in general.”
If we do not fix this problem ourselves, the legislature–properly–will fix it to our detriment.
JCW: The study that is likely being commissioned by the AOC will arrive at a predetermined result. If you want a truly independent study, have Los Angeles Superior Court commission the study. In countless cases we can illustrate where a court worker was able to deliver a project for a small fraction of the price the AOC and the facilities management unit and their unlicensed contractors quoted. We disagree with Mr. Stetson and believe that a facilities managers and staff are required to man the buildings and do the light stuff. There should be an organizational structure to escalate projects into that require design, construction and engineering but by no means should contractors be in charge of running the courts. It did not work in Iraq, it does not work in Afghanistan and it results in substantial deferred maintenance and operations due to sky high captive pricing.
Of particular attention of how stellar your model of delivery of world class services actually works, I give Mr. Stetson this little tidbit from Judge McNatt in San Joaquin County. *corrected. Sorry.
You must read the reply of Judge Bobby McNatt. Standing Ovation!
“San Joaquin County Superior Court has always been one of, if not the most underfunded of the State’s 58 courts. The same duct tape still holds down the carpet in the judicial secretary’s office as it did when I arrived over 17 years ago. During that time, one of the four elevators in our main courthouse has stopped working, with no repair date projected. We still have one of the highest case loads per bench officer. There is no way to count how many times proposals to increase the number of judges here have been traded away in Sacramento or San Francisco for some other political lollipop. To some degree, I believe this is because historically, our local court hasn’t “made nice” politically with the AOC and administrative staff.”
JCW is going to be opening up a satellite in San Joaquin County next month and give some special attention to San Joaquin because we’re concerned about the plight of San Joaquin Courts in general.
CCR- “Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again!”
Just. Ouch. A must read and a standing ovation!
Thank you Ms. Deborah Ricketts, we really appreciate you stepping up to the plate.
Thank you Mr. Alan Kidder, we really appreciate you stepping up to the plate. :)
JCW – Sucking up for a spot on the Judicial Council? Talking points? Really? At this point I believe your aspirations, views and interpretation of the California constitution make you un-electable to a democratized judicial council and quite possibly as a judge.
“In our efforts to distinguish the judicial branch of government from the others, which find themselves the target of such vehement public backlash, we can ill afford to endorse the typical “government” practice of engaging in illogical and impractical actions, such as commissioning a self-analytical review of ourselves and, then, summarily rejecting it by “sending it to committee for further review” when we are challenged by the conclusions reached in that self-initiated process.
We should stand up, and be the adults in the room, by asserting leadership in government by accepting our self-identified shortcomings and moving forward expeditiously in resolving the problems that confront us. To do otherwise simply casts us in the same dim light as other parts of “government” that the public, rightly and vocally, disfavors.”
You must read the comments of Judge Earl. Standing Ovation!
“I believe the Strategic Evaluation Committee Report recommendations would win back the public’s faith in our Judicial Branch and I urge the Judicial Council to adopt and implement all the recommendations posthaste!” JCW- Thank you for your input Ms. Zawodny!
“As a 10-year veteran of the trial courts, I wholeheartedly agree with Judge Charles Wachob and the Strategic Evaluation Committee’s report on needed changes to the Administrative Office of the Court. I urge the Judicial Council to adopt and implement forthwith all the SEC’s recommendations. The public’s faith in our judicial branch is failing. The SEC-recommended changes are a step in the right direction to insure that justice is served for all citizens of the State of California.” JCW- Thank you for your input Ms. Beebout!
“The Strategic Evaluation Committee Report provides an excellent blueprint for much needed reform and would go a long way to restoring the public’s faith in the Judicial Branch. I urge Judicial Council to implement each and every recommendation without further delay.” JCW- Thank you for your input Ms. Sullivan!
A good read worthy of a Standing Ovation!
“Failing to take action and kicking the can down the road by ignoring the concept of implementing a robust business model is unwise because it lends greater credence to the destructive voices who complain that AOC has captivated the Council and holds it hostage and forces it to become not responsive. Can the Council actually say, “Oh, we need more information.” “Oh, this report is stale.” When will any report be other than stale? The Council has the report. The Council should act. The decision not to act is a decision.”
“While the growth of the AOC was inevitable, no person or entity ever envisioned or intended the AOC to become the proverbial “tail wagging the dog.”"
“The Judicial Council should take up the SEC report; adopt the SEC recommendations; and vote to direct the interim AOC leaders to implement the recommendations without further hesitation or delay.”
“As our Branch becomes leaner, given our dire budgetary circumstances, so too should the AOC consider ways to become leaner and more efficient. Further, recognizing the concept that the AOC should be transparent and accountable would be a positive step toward keeping our Branch strong.”
“Over the past 15 years I have watched with a growing sense of dismay as the AOC grew from what appeared to be an appropriate size into a gross caricature of a large self- impressed, self-important, self-governing and self-promoting bloated public sector bureaucracy.”
“the time has come to consider and act upon many of the recommendations made in the SEC report. This organization still has much good to accomplish. Let it be done in a way which gives all participants and observers complete confidence in the process.”
“I am disturbed by the not so subtle campaign to attempt to marginalize the report. The claim that the recommendations should be disregarded since they only depict ”a snapshot in time” is totally bogus. What the findings show is a culture of the AOC that has been allowed to develop by the Judicial Council’s abdication of its oversight responsibilities. The claim that many of the recommendations have been implemented is also bogus. This appears to be a standard response whenever the AOC is called out for its malfeasance.”
A good read. Standing Ovation!
“Despite continuous videos of “happy talk” from our court leaders, moral is at an all time low and distrust at an all time high. To begin to the long way back from where we are today, it is imperative that all of the recommendations made in the SEC report be implemented immediately. Dithering and studying the problem, endless surveys and committee reports will do nothing more than exacerbate a festering mess.”
“The judges and other members of the SEC worked hard to reach their findings. I trust their judgment. Please implement their recommendations immediately.”
“Unfortunately, arrogance seemed to become the culture at the AOC, and the Judicial Council did not exercise their oversight role effectively in many other instances. The AOC should have been a service oriented organization, not a means of control. At its heart, the core function of the third branch of government is to provide access to justice for the citizens of this state. Forcing trial courts to absorb cuts, which meant layoffs and courtroom closures, while the AOC gave raises to its own employees, shows how far arrogance had permeated the AOC.”
“As a former member of the Judicial Council, I witnessed many of the problems identified in the SEC report, such as misleading statements by senior management regarding the true staffing levels of the AOC; misinformation regarding the “furloughs” voluntarily taken by AOC staff; the difficulty in understanding and lack of transparency in the AOC budget and budget process; and the absence of important information in staff reports regarding the full range of options, alternatives, costs, impacts, and policy considerations with respect to proposals submitted for the Council’s approval.”
“I would urge the Judicial Council to implement ALL the recommendations in the report ASAP and NOT delay this. The AOC has gotten out of control and needs to be brought in line with the recommendations of the report.”
“Exorbitant pensions, faux furloughs, disinformation regarding staffing levels, poor management, the failed $700 million CCMS experiment, and even lobbing to deprive judges of their ability to select their own presiding judges are just a few examples that the AOC’s priorities are to acquire power for the sake of power and to control the trial courts rather than serve the citizens of the state and its trial courts. Unfortunately, the SEC report falls short in assessing how AOC was allowed to morph into this bureaucratic juggernaut. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the Judicial Council. Unanimous vote after unanimous vote created an atmosphere that any independence or disagreement with Council leadership would not be tolerated. The Council is constitutionally charged with managing the AOC. It has failed to do so with any modicum of success.”
I strongly urge you to adopt the recommendations. It’s time for accountability.
State Bar / AOC Template response. Bronx Cheer.
A good read. Standing Ovation!
“Our judicial branch is in disarray and turmoil. We are viewed by our citizens and the other government branches as incapable of managing our budget, our operations and ourselves. At this point, we cannot afford to waste any more time angrily pointing fingers or failing to listen to one another. The mess has been made and we are in it together. We must act decisively and without hesitation to put into effect the changes that must be made. The SEC report provides the road map. Now we need the leadership from our Chief Justice and the Judicial Council to take the steps to quickly implement necessary change. It can be done. Sadly, our crisis is still in its early stages. We must show the people of California the ability of their judicial leaders to uphold their oaths, set aside their differences and to work together for the common good of our branch and ensure that the service of justice is our focus.”
“The misconstrued mission of the AOC as managing judges and creating court policy in the guise of creating uniformity of court governance without any meaningful oversight of the Judicial Council is now exposed not in rhetoric but in fact. By passing the SEC recommendations to another committee for further evaluation this Judicial Council is following the well worn path of its predecessor Judicial Councils’ by failing to actually exercise governance.”
I agree with the SEC recommendations and urge Judicial Council to adopt each and every one without delay. JCW- Thank You Ms. Jackson!
Hon. Steve White, Superior Court of Sacramento County
Watch the video or read the comments. Standing Ovation!
“There are many hard working employees of the AOC that I have come in contact with over the years. I thank them for their service but at the same time it is abudantly clear that the AOC is unwieldy and than an extreme makeover is long overdue.”
“I concur with the comments by Judge, Lance Ito, Dan Oki,Chas. McCoy and others; I strongly, specifically and respectfully request immediate implimentation of ALL of the recommendations in the SEC report forthwith. The need for reform is long overdue.”
Well worth reading. Standing Ovation!
“It cannot be a surprise that a system under the control of one person who selects a majority of decision-makers with the responsibility of overseeing a mass of servants cannot function. Having labored for 27 years in the trial and appellate courts, it is heart-breaking to see the judiciary so incompetent at the highest levels. No rational leader would have invested so many resources for so long in such a mistaken venture as CCMS. No valid system of control would have let it happen. The fact that those in control had only contempt for anyone offering criticism only highlights the failure of the system.”
“Please don’t just pay lipservice to this valuable tool for reform. A failure to institute meaningful and immediate reforms insults this process and the fine members of the SEC.”
“First, the AOC has undertaken costly projects without the requisite expertise to plan the projects and then oversee them properly. Second, the AOC has to address the perception in the Legislature that the AOC has wasted public funds and cannot manage its business affairs. Finally, the Committee structure is too time and resource-consuming in relation to the relative few changes RUPRO is willing to review.”
You must read Judge Dohi’s comments. Standing Ovation!
You must read Judge Ito’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“I have worked in the court system for over 18 years, and experienced all of the changes the Judicial Branch has gone through during that time – from reliant on the local county government to now ‘reliant’ on the AOC/Judicial Council. At this point we may have been better off with the local government. It is vital to the independence, integrity, credibility, and morale of the entire Judicial Branch immediate action be taken to implement each and every recommendation of the Strategic Evaluation Committee report. The decision was made to open the report up for a comment period; even through fear of retribution the comments are consistent in their message of the need to implement the recommendations immediately.Also it is clear from the SEC report, the actions of the legislature and Governor Brown the Judicial Branch is in trouble. It is time to step up, admit devastating decisions and mistakes have been made and move forward by immediately making the changes recommended and needed to save our branch. Commit to this on July 27, 2012. No more committees, reports, surveys, comments or delay.” JCW – Very well stated Ms. Davis and thank you for your input!
You must read Judge Phillips comments. Standing Ovation!
“I have carefully read the SEC’s report on the AOC. When the SEC was appointed, I was somewhat skeptical whether it would in fact examine the AOC with a critical eye. I was gratified to see in its report strong evidence both of its diligence in collecting information and its commitment to frank and thorough analysis. Considering the composition of the SEC and the effort it made in preparing its report, I confess I was
surprised and disappointed that the Judicial Council declined to act on any of the SEC’s unanimous recommendations and instead referred it out for further comment. While I wholeheartedly endorse consultation within the judiciary, at some point further consultation becomes a substitute for action. There is a real danger that further delay, or the failure to recognize both the correctness of the SEC’s criticisms and the force of its recommendations, will alienate substantial numbers of judicial officers and call into question the ability of the Judicial Council to undertake any meaningful oversight role. The Judicial Council has the authority–indeed the duty–to oversee the AOC. What it has lacked is the willingness to accept the responsibility that comes with that authority.”
“I do not accept that the AOC has suffered the same budget cuts as the trial courts. Perception is Reality. The AOC has become a bloated bureaucracy and there needs to be more accountability. If the leaders of the Court fail to adopt the recommendations of the SEC Report, it signals there is no change. I have served on Judicial Council Committees and my opinion is not just based on the SEC report but on some personal observations. The AOC seems to be immune from budget cuts and responsibility for its decisions during the economic crisis.”
State Bar / AOC Template response. Bronx Cheer.
State Bar / AOC template response BUT Mr. Cohen prefaced his comments by disclosing his organization is funded by the AOC, just like most other State Bar / AOC template responders. This transparent disclosure alone is something that the Judicial Council and the AOC can learn from by example. Thank you for your transparent, prefaced comments Mr. Cohen.
“With due respect to the efforts of employees, attorneys, managers, supervisors, and administrators of the Administrative Offices of the Court, the organization has grown out of control, all to the severe detriment of the trial courts, and the people of the State of California.”
“Having been on the bench for 16 years and having served as a supervising judge of the criminal division for two terms, I have observed the incredible wasted expenditure of funds by the AOC as troops of consultants marched through our court, as the AOC grew from one office to district office to field offices… the writing was on the wall were all to be engulfed by this behemoth. I sat and listened in court meetings, while we were told that we “had to do” this or that or could not do “this or that” because “the AOC would not like it”, that somehow revenge would be taken up our court if we did not obey. This must stop, the AOC and the Judicial Council needs to exist only to help the courts not take over the courts. The Judicial Council must become more transparent and democratic, hopefully that will guarantee that the constraints of Article VI of the California Constitution’s will be respected.” JCW- Standing Ovation!
“Waiting for a new administrative director before taking action will risk continued subjugation of the Judicial Council by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The urgency and necessity for adopting the
SEC’s recommendations are evident, especially in light of ongoing actions by the AOC and Judicial Council Staff. For example, AOC and Judicial Council staff opposed recently passed legislation necessary for judicial reform without the approval (and in contradiction) of the Chief Justice and members of the Judicial Council. The SEC report observed that AOC staff are not properly supervised by the Council and made recommendations to control a bureaucracy that sees itself at the top of the organizational chart (see Recommendation Nos. 4-1 through 4-4, page 44).”
You must read Judge Gary’s response. Standing Ovation!
“I fail to understand why the Council’s response to this report was to send it out for more comment. This never ending cycle of study, comment and review appears to be nothing more than a transparent attempt to delay any meaningful steps to resolve the critical situations addressed in the report.”
Perennial suck-up and Judicial Council insider defends yet another AOC program.
“All recommendations of the SEC committee report should be implemented in full, without any limitations, and ASAP!!! The time for waiting or delay is over, and the time for action is now!!”
“My impression not only from the SEC report but from common knowledge as to those involved in the trial courts is that the management of AOC has grown out of hand. Fiscal responsibility has been flawed, and
the impact upon the courts and the public we serve has now come home to roost. The time for talk is over. Implementation of the recommendations of the SEC report need to go forward immediately. Further delay risks the importance of the third branch of government that the majority of the public are exposed to daily.”
“I strongly urge our Chief Justice and Judicial Council to implement every one of the SEC’s recommendations forthwith.There is no logical or legitimate reason not to and any delay will obviously result in further detriment to our branch.”
Full Disclosure: Mr. Warren collects one check as a Scholar in Residence from the AOC. He collects a second check from the National Center for State Courts that the AOC pays nearly a million dollars per year. When you consider all of the contracting that NCSC does with the AOC this number climbs over a million. Mr. Warren should be thanked for his service to the AOC and dismissed. Should the SEC comments be taken to heart it is likely that the AOC funding stream to the NCSC will disappear. If the JC is democratized, I guarantee it will disappear.
You must read Judge Hall’s comments. Standing Ovation!
“I feel strongly that the report has cast into question so many of the core, fundamental issues at the AOC and to continue to study, evaluate or seek comment, rather than simply face the facts set forth in the report, continues to cast shadows upon the AOC. The AOC has grown way too large, is management heavy and has lost its way. I agree completely, based on my personal dealings with the AOC, that the members appear to believe they control the judges and tell them what to do, rather than support the judges in performing their functions. I am deeply concerned about the lack of transparency, the lack of prudent fiscal decisions and many of the other items highlighted by the report. Please note my strong support of the recommendations set forth in the report and my belief that they should be implemented immediately. Thank you for considering my opinion.”
You must read Judge Kelety’s comments, especially those that compare CCMS to her old toilet in the hall bathroom. (LOL!!!) Standing Ovation!
“I am fearful that if something is not done immediately, the justice system in the State of California will cease to exist as we once knew it, and justice would be compromised — which is something that should not happen in a civilized society.”
“I write to voice my strong support for the immediate implementation of each and every one of the recommendations in the recent report by the Strategic Evaluation Committee following its review of the Administrative Office of the Courts. In my view these reforms are long overdue.”
JCW – A good read.
Another vote for a democratically elected judicial council. Standing Ovation!
“I was often used as an example of dedication and ingenuity by former Chief Justice Ronald George in his states of the judiciary to the legislature for endeavoring to provide access to the courts in building courtroom furniture for use by the public in the courts where I have sat. Of course it was all with my own personal funds. I am not unique. The vast majority of judges that I know dedicate their lives to there judicial functions and volunteer their own time for the benefit of access to justice. We need to focus our efforts on delivering justice not on opening more discussion on a report commissioned by the Judicial Council and its appointed experts.”
“I hope you can persuade Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and those higher up at the AOC and JC to admit the SEC Report points out real problems (current problems, not ancient history) which must be addressed for the branch to restore mutual trust, cooperation, and internal harmony. Failing this, the internal fight between the judges on the trial courts and “headquarters” — on full display for the legislature and executive branch to see — will doubtless continue. Some degree of mea culpa by AOC and JC leadership will be needed to restore credibility. Respectfully and with deep personal regard for your willingnesss to take a fresh look at these awkward inheritances, Bill”
“It is outrageous that the AOC was lobbying against the budgetary reforms in the budget trailer bill incorporating the provisions of AB 1208, when the Chief Ju stice was not opposed to such reforms and said so. AOC staff at all levels should be absolutely prohibited, on pain of immediate termination of employment, from lobbying the Legislature at all and only the Judicial Council should be permitted to do so. As the SEC report has pointed out, AOC staff are not appropriately supervised by the Judicial Council and robust concrete measures must be taken to rein in a bureaucracy that sees itself at the top of the organizational chart.” A note from JCW – If we were to compose a list of B.S. that child and hershkowitz have spread all over the legislature, it would be nearly as long as this post. Immediate termination is already in order. The judicial branch has flat zero legislative credibility because of these two. As long as they stay in their respective positions and are rewarded with a paycheck for being dishonest the whole branch might as well wear a “kick me harder” sign in front of the legislature.
“The AOC is out of control. The AOC has wasted billions of dollars. The funding must be allocated to the trial and appellate courts, not some bureaucracy out of control. 55 courtrooms closed in Los Angeles. What next??? More closures next year? The courts cannot reject the cases that are filed. We cannot control our caseload. Do we end up dismissing all misdemeanor cases due to closed courtrooms? Do we end up forcing civil cases to a standstill so that the felonies are tried? Do we make people wait 4 years before divorces can be finalized and custody disputes resolved? (Sobering note from JCW – since 2008, more than 100 courtrooms across Los Angeles County have been shut down primarily due to the inept oversight and mismanagement of the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts.)
“I know there are some who are promoting a delay in following the recommendations. They use various arguments including the idea of waiting for a new executive director. Whatever excuse is used, a delay is not in the best interest of the courts.”
“It has become apparent that the OGC has morphed from a legal office to a policy organization, and that the head of that division has carved out for herself, without Council approval, a policymaking role. The SEC report documented this fact. As legal counsel to a governmental body, the OGC should not be producing publications, or establishing policy. It is OGC’s responsibility under the Rules of Court to provide advice, NOT ORDERS.” You must read the balance of comments from Judge Lopez-Giss. Standing Ovation!
“Please learn the lesson. Implement all recommendations. Preferably, yesterday”
“ I urge the Executive and Planning Committee, the Chief Justice, and the Judicial Council to immediately implement every recommendation of the strategic Evaluation Committee. The reasons for each recommendation are clearly set forth in the SEC’s report, and borne out by the bitter experience of every sitting judge in the state. Unfortunately I have no expectation whatsoever that any of the SEC’s recommendations will be implemented. All of the failures of the Judicial Council to control the AOC have been pointed out in the past by other reports and other audits, and all have been ignored. It took an act of the legislature to stop the AOC from pouring more of the taxpayers’ dollars down the rat hole which is the CCMS. It will take another act by the legislature to end the bloated bureacracy which is the AOC. The Judicial Council clearly has no interest in the subject.” – Standing Ovaation!
“I have seen many changes in the courts, most for the better, but for the past several years, things have been on the rapid decline. We were and still are the largest and best justice system in the world; however, the scales of justice are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to hold.”
“The people who work at the AOC are not subject to re-election challenges every 6 years, as we are. We have to answer to voters for decisions made by people who are not accountable to us. That is an incredibly difficult position to be in.”