Posted on December 10, 2012
How should the Long Beach courthouse debacle be managed? More specifically, who should pay?
Got an anonymous tip? https:\\forms.hush.com\judicialcouncilwatcher
Judicial Council Watcher
December 10, 2012
Yes, another one of those anemic polls where less than 1% of our readership typically responds. It’s been a little over a year since our last poll and we wanted to see if anything has changed. We actually expect input from OCCM in this poll so don’t let them be the only voice.
When you say the money should only come from AOC allocations, I’d vote for that, but with the caveat that that cost not then be passed down to the trial courts by the AOC. For example AT&T was to reimburse our tiny household $2.98 via class action for impertinent internet charges. AT&T then promptly raised our internet charge by $3.00 every month. Ho-hum.
That would be the intent of that choice. The AOC’s budget would be cut by the amount of the long beach rent payment and both the AOC’s budget and the Long Beach rent would be reflected in legislation.
If the money comes from the court construction fund we think about 10 smaller courthouse projects will be permanently mothballed – or one big project like San Diego and a few smaller ones would be mothballed.
While the participation numbers tend to drop with the number of readers, only 10% of those who voted believe that the legislature should pay for this while 50% indicate the legislature and the AOC should walk away from this project. About 33% of readers have voted and we expect that number to drop. Of course the only way you can see the poll results for yourself is to vote.
If the AOC had to pay literally for their mistakes, perhaps they would be more circumspect with California public funds? I was amazed that trial court PJs bear any financial brunt of decisions made.
It wasn’t such a bad law when courts were permitted large reserves. However with only a 1% reserve, this law means trouble for most courts.The problem with california rules of court is that it appears that those that sit on the council and those that work for the AOC are exempt from these rules of court.
I wish you had the voting option of: the AOC pays and then the appropriate firings of management/attorneys involved in the scheme.
Find us 100 votes and we’ll ask that question next. That would be about 47* more votes and currently votes are above average so this is an issue that people care about.
76% of respondents thus far indicate that one way or another the AOC should eat what they bit off. Either by paying for Long Beach out of the AOC’s budget or forcing the AOC to walk away from the deal.
I just sent a post to the LA County Bar Assn Family Law list serve in response to a post which included an article from 12/7/12 from the Recorder. I urged fellow list serve members to read up on the issues, subscribe to this site, and start educating the public. I’ll post the article and my response below.
Attorneys who are asked to engage in some critical thinking with all the facts are the single largest threat to both the Judicial Council and the AOC. Thank you for spreading the word. Since the state bar is in the pocket of the Judicial Council, they’re encouraging everyone to look past the boondoggles and just fund the branch.
We vehemently disagree. Lawyers should consider all of the facts and when they do, this system will be reformed.
A little off topic, but……….
Placer Superior Plans to Outsource All Reporting Services
Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Closures, Furloughs, Reporter Layoffs
For those of you keeping tabs on the attempts of Placer County Superior Court (PCSC) to privatize court reporter services, the latest news is that the entire staff of official reporters will receive layoff notices early in the new year.
PCSC posted requests for proposals on its website this past fall in which they were seeking to have court reporter firms take over the court reporting services within the court. It appears that PCSC has chosen a firm, although the name of the firm is unknown at this time.
COCRA will be contacting PCSC to determine the reporting agency that has been selected and we will in turn be contacting said agency to determine what their plans, if any, will be for those officials to be laid off.
COCRA has stated it before, and we will reiterate once more, that COCRA believes that superior courts have a moral and professional obligation to provide in-house court reporting services to litigants, defendants, and the general public who walk through the courthouse doors of California.
This should also be a wakeup call to ALL court reporters throughout the state that this is yet another attempt by courts to outsource the work of public employees. And COCRA will work diligently with all parties to ensure that this “solution” does not spread.
Although we acknowledge the budget constraints that courts have been under these past years, COCRA still firmly believes that there are budgetary and legislative solutions to assist courts that will prevent the outsourcing of the work of official reporters and offer reporting services free of bias and conflict to all litigants.
Posted on December 2, 2012 by admin
Comments are closed.
Would anyone here know how to obtain access to those bids referenced above or the results thereof? Would they be “public” information?
Karen Louise Peckham
I am disgusted by this attempt at union busting and privatizing the court system. I didn’t know Justice was for sale. I’d like to know who these outside agency vendors are myself and ream them up one side and down the other. Shame on you all for crossing that line.
Whatever happened to preserving our historical and traditional principles to ensure liberty and justice for all citizens who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, screwed out of a business deal, carved on by unscrupulous plastic surgeons, et cetera?
Perhaps the AOC should start cutting their own FAT, starting with all the top-heavy managers, not laying off the most important person in the courtroom next to the Judge, the Guardian of the Record, the hard-working stenographer who records and preserves every word and sound uttered in the coutroom.
LONG LIVE THE TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY CERTIFIED REALTIME REPORTER!!
Disgusted ask the court for the info and cite the rule of court that addresses release of information 10.??? Address it to the CEO and cc: the PJ. Can someone give Disgusted the correct CRC? thanks.
If you go to the court’s website there should be a link for “records requests” which will take you to the name and address of the court’s XO.
Disgusted of course i meant put the request in writing. Although it is not required putting your request in writing memoralizes it for all parties.
Moral and professional does not = required by law. Sad though this situation is.
They should accept an email. The form is not required. Courts have typically requested that these requests be directed towards their public information officers.
Thanks so much, all, for the info!
Capital Accounts: Reeling Courts Face New Threat
2012-12-07 02:06:39 PM
SACRAMENTO — When is a threatened budget cut just more bad fiscal news and when is it really an angry-gram from the governor’s office?
That’s the question judicial leaders will have to wrestle with in the coming weeks as they try to block an apparent proposal from the Department of Finance to drain $200 million in trial court reserves in July 2013, a full year earlier than the 2012-13 budget deal called for.
Judge Steven Jahr, the administrative director of the courts, warned in a Wednesday branchwide email that state Finance director Ana Matosantos told him “that the agreement her office had reached with the Legislature in settling the budget anticipated sweeping these funds, despite the budget act trailer bill language.”
Jahr’s email set off a frenzy in the trial courts, which had been promised a two-year “glide path” to spend down local reserves to help offset ongoing budget cuts.
“It’s controlled panic or concern,” said Sacramento County Superior Court Presiding Judge Laurie Earl, who leads the Judicial Council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee. “I think it’s a shock.”
Matosantos spokesman H.D. Palmer wouldn’t confirm whether the finance director had indeed told Jahr the state was grabbing the trial court reserves. He would only say that any panic “is premature. No budget decision is final at this time.”
Jahr’s email seemed to catch the Legislature by surprise, too. Several people inside the Capitol who are familiar with judicial issues said they knew of no legislative agreement to take the trial court reserves in 2013 and no obvious interest from lawmakers in doing so. Both the state Assembly and Senate would have to approve any proposal to move up the court reserves sweep date.
So what’s going on here? Just looking at the facts, the governor’s next budget will probably have to address a deficit — the passage of Proposition 30 only prevented the shortfall from being bigger. The legislative analyst’s office has projected a $1.9 billion deficit. That’s a much, much smaller figure than in recent years, but it still puts the courts in the potential cost-cutting crosshairs.
Beyond that, the Department of Finance’s alleged threat to court reserves may just be an early start to the annual budget tango, a complex dance of secretive signals, backroom negotiations and public imaging. In a town where few seem willing or able to talk bluntly, a proposed budget cut directed at a prime source of money can say more than just a balanced-ledger plan.
And there are plenty of reasons why the governor and the Legislature might want to express their displeasure with the judiciary. The failed Court Case Management System is still a Capitol touchstone for government technology bungling. The Trial Court Funding Workgroup, a creation of the governor and chief justice to evaluate state control of court financing, has yet to find its public footing amid confusion about its mission. San Francisco Superior Court’s decision to grant employee pay raises and bonuses — offset by reduced health care and pension contributions — has also raised some eyebrows.
And then there’s the new Long Beach courthouse. In yet another dour email, Justice Brad Hill of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, chairman of the Court Facilities Working Group, told court leaders this past week that they’ll have to cut another $600 million from pending courthouse projects because “all indications are” general fund money for the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse isn’t coming from the state.
This news should come as little surprise to the judiciary. State Senate budget chairman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, warned judiciary leaders back in August that, despite any previous assumptions, they shouldn’t expect the state to pick up the costs of annual service payments for the public-private partnership project in Long Beach. The money would have to come from SB 1407 funds, he said, a reference to the pool of bond-financing dollars the Legislature authorized in 2008 to build and fix courthouses.
And yet, back in September, when the Court Facilities Working Group met in a marathon meeting to decide which projects had to be iced because of construction funding cuts, Leno’s warning was not considered. Hill said there was too much “speculation at that point as to whether that would come to pass.”
Now Hill’s committee has hurriedly called a meeting next Thursday to chop another $600 million in funding from 24 planned courthouse projects so that enough SB 1407 money can be freed up to pay for Long Beach. At risk are courthouses in El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Inyo, Lake, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Merced, Nevada, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama and Tuolumne counties.
Hill’s plan is to get the cut list to the Judicial Council in January or February. The timing would give legislators months to consider the possible loss of projects in their districts as the governor’s budget is reviewed.
“I really hope that given the passage of Prop 30 and perhaps the fact that the state’s finances appear a little more stable that [the Legislature and governor] will abide by the original intent [of the Long Beach financing agreement] and return to the general fund,” Hill said.
Beyond Long Beach and other potential trouble spots for the judiciary, Jahr has seized on the possible budget threat to rally judges, lawyers and other branch defenders.
Presiding judges will be “immediately communicating with each of your legislative representatives in the effort to avert this potential crisis that would further cripple our justice system,” Jahr wrote.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will also meet with the governor on Thursday “to communicate the dire consequences of this potential action,” he said.
Woops. I should have posted my response to this article as a “reply” here. Sorry. It appears below….
An additional apology: I do recall seeing this article posted previously on this site. There’s something about AOC news that makes me feel I haven’t heard it before, yet at the same time it’s always so familiar. Is that the typical human response to the incredible?
Now Hill’s committee has hurriedly called a meeting next Thursday to chop another $600 million in funding from 24 planned courthouse projects so that enough SB 1407 money can be freed up to pay for Long Beach.
It’s time to pay the rent you humps up there at Death Star HQ.
And my response urging list serve members to take action:
For those interested in knowing what truly threatens the trial courts’ budgets, and has for decades, by destroying its credibility in the Legislature and blowing lots and lots of money on useless and/or wasteful projects, there are a couple of links below. This is the news which needs to be broadcast now, and we attorneys must become informed and become standard-bearers until court closures and the disenfranchisement of rural and underrepresented folks no longer prevail. In addition to courts and courtrooms, self-help centers, family law facilitator offices, and mediation programs are closing all over the state. The Judicial Council and its staffing agency, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) bears much of the responsibility for the current budget crisis.
Judge Hill urges the legislature and the governor “to abide by the original intent” and have the Long Beach courthouse paid out of the general fund. Notice he doesn’t say “agreement”? This is because the AOC never made an agreement for how this $1.8 billion disaster ($54M per year — more than the facilities funding for all California courthouses combined — for the next 35 years) would be paid for. In fact, it’s impossible to even locate a vote which authorized this project.
Ask the Alliance of California Judges, a 400+ strong group of judges organized, essentially, to curtail the waste at the AOC: http://allianceofcaliforniajudges.com/ or read up here: http://judicialcouncilwatcher.wordpress.com/
The AOC’s assumption that the Long Beach construction boondoggle should be paid out of the general fund is arrogant and misleading. Despite the Judicial Council’s promise to clean up its wasteful act and stop its profligate spending (which continues during this severe economic downturn — to the extent the AOC is given money to spend) by adopting the recommendations of the Strategic Evaluation Committtee (SEC), you wouldn’t notice much change, or know of it by its top leadership.
All told, the AOC has probably blown billions of dollars during the past decade on the useless CCMS, Long Beach PPP arrangement, and other wasteful expenditures of tax dollars. If these dollars were available today, YOUR courthouse might have been saved. LA County would not be watching as 10 courthouses close in 8 months, wouldn’t be losing the apparently successful mediation program, and other services designed to improve access to court services. (And FYI: Mendocino’s court couldn’t enter into a partnership with the county to improve the facility because the AOC wouldn’t agree to such a partnership. However, a partnership that enriches a private developer, is just fine.)
The AOC has very little credibility in the legislature. Check out AB 1208, which passed the Assembly, to the shock of our CJ, but is likely to die in the Senate (it’s a two-year bill with an end date of 1/31/13 and it has yet to be assigned to committee). The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) offered a bright picture for trial court funding for fiscal year 2013-14, but that perspective was almost entirely dependent upon bypassing the AOC when funding the trial courts. Alas, this is not going to happen. And a court near you will be closing soon. Please do your clients and brethren the favor of reading some of the fascinating, and even horrifying, articles on the Judicial Council Watcher website, subscribe, and begin discussions about who is truly responsible for much of this crisis and how we can help get the courts out of this mess by democratizing the Judicial Council. And then insist on full-funding of the trial courts, giving the AOC a year to clean up its act. Should it fail to do so, the governor should take the LAO’s and Assemblymember Calderon’s (now term-limited out) lead and clean house at the Judicial Council.
Clean house at the Judicial Council NOW.
If a court is large enough for a PIO Michael and an email is in a written form of course
Time for a big management RIF at the Death Star:
PAGE 16 & 17 AOC STAFFING METRICS 12/5/12
Smile you are on Candid Camera….
Item 1 Trial Courts: Authorization for Remote Video Trial Pilot Projects in Proceedings
for Violations of Traffic and Compulsory Education Laws (adopt Cal. Rules of
Court, rules 4.220 and 4.230; adopt forms TR-500-INFO, TR-505, TR-510, MC-900-
INFO, and MC-905; sponsor legislation to add section 40904 to the Vehicle Code and
section 48297 to the Education Code)
Action: The Rules and Projects Committee approved
See Attachment A for Hull’s Rules of Order
Status of the California Court Case Management System and the Phoenix Program 2012
REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE DECEMBER 2012
Oops there went all the trial court operations cash…
Scroll down to page 16 and behold!
Table 1: Final CCMS Program Cost…
These folks continue to love you and all that you do…
The Palace Guard must be maintained at all costs…
Ah what a nugget of gold…
I love working with AOC material…
“Finally, the AOC recommends designating the council’s Trial Court Facility Modifications Working Group to receive reporting about court leases generally.”
Let’s start with the Long Beach deal…Shall we??????????
We are ready to receive the LONG BEACH Contract(s) and ALL ATTACHMENTS, AND ADDENDUMS THERETO…
Things don’t go quite as planned…
December 11, 2012
Michael should have that information (and it will be published here upon receipt) by Monday if the AOC’s ten day guidance is any indication.
We are all looking forward to it.
The AOC needs to pay for Long Beach out of their budget. They have no legal right to take courthouse construction funds. They can reduce their bloated budget. Why not start by reducing Jahr Patel Soderland and Child by half? Shuttering the crystal palace as suggested in the SEC report might be another productive place to cut. The whole operation can run out of Sacramento. They should also reduce the OGC and CJER by 50%, and end the assigned judges program. If they can’t afford the Long Beach courthouse after that, then they should admit they failed . All involved at the JC/AOC should resign and they can halt dumping any more good money after bad into Long Beach.
“If they can’t afford the Long Beach courthouse after that, then they should admit they failed . All involved at the JC/AOC should resign and they can halt dumping any more good money after bad into Long Beach.”
The Office of the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and the AOC admit they made a mistake and accept responsibility? We all live for the day.
Pigs will fly first and hell will freeze over — at the same time.
Serving themselves to the detriment of all Californians.
Long live the ACJ.
Lando, all great ideas but none of the above will ever happen. The Hull’s and Hill’s of the world will never agree to reduce their power. No instead, more Court Commissioners and court reporters will lose their jobs, courthouses already built and serving the public will continue to close and millions more will be diverted to Long Beach just as millions were wasted on CCMS. This is indeed an epic fail.
It’s fair to state that the deciders have already decided that (again) the trial courts will take the hit for their mistake and define the mistake as a mistake by the legislature and the governor even if there is no truth to it.
In the Cantil-Sakauye administration she has made it abundantly clear that there are many versions of the truth and that this is acceptable. As governor, you can’t simply summon a chief justice for a come to jesus discussion but you can threaten to cut her budget and that would serve the same function.
Our poll indicates that a majority of people think that either we should just walk away from this project or that the AOC’s budget should be cut permanently by the amount of the rent. Few agree that the state legislature should pay for this project with a line-item appropriation or that the court construction fund, ergo the trial courts should be held accountable for this Judicial Council and AOC’s 2 billion dollar overreach of their constitutional authority.
What the judicial council and the AOC did with respect to the long beach project was irresponsible in the midst of a deep budget deficit and should result in terminations of all involved. Either they were passive and said nothing or they were active participants in this fundamentally dishonest process. In either case, heads should roll.
If Mr. Jahr wants to be seen as credible, if the judicial council wants to be seen as credible, if the chief justice wishes to be seen as credible, Jahr has no choice but to fire a few people over this debacle. If he doesn’t fire anyone over this, then we will continue to witness lip service being paid to transparency and accountability. Even the LAO’s report said that this PPP should not have been built because there is no user fee or toll supporting it, the AOC did not define a source to pay for it and that the AOC failed in 5 of the 6 best practices criteria for evaluating and executing PPP projects.
In this warped world of the judicial council the bigger the screw-up the larger the promotion.
This is why the Judicial Council and the AOC should be stripped of all court maintenance and construction responsibility and it should be turned over to the California Department of General Services, who manages over 25,000 properties on behalf of the people of the state of California and had previously managed all state courthouses.
Not only did they fail at 5 of the 6 best practices for a PPP project but the one best practice that they did engage in utilized dubious assumptions and was not credible. (value for money study conducted by VFM utilized flawed assumptions to come to their conclusion)
“In this warped world of the judicial council the bigger the screw-up the larger the promotion. ”
Yes. Did I hear awards?
And the Biggest Fuckup goes to….
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2012
Item 1 4:30-6:00 p.m.
Judicial Council Distinguished Service Awards and Benjamin Aranda Award for 2012 (No Action Required. There are no materials for this item.)
We are headed for a showdown. The public has been getting screwed in every imaginable way, and paying for the privilege, while insular members of Judicial branch leadership have continued to feather their own nests, make billion dollar mistakes, thumb their noses (at the Governor, the legislature, the judges of this state and most especially the public) and bring the trial courts to their knees. I again remind everyone that having the trial courts in disaster mode creates what the National Center for State Courts has touted as an opportunity for discussions on how to centralize control.
Democratize the Judicial Council.
And bring back the basics: open courts, good judges (elected by the public as required by the CA Constitution), court clerks, and court reporters. How far the branch has fallen– in thinking that those essentials are somehow considered luxuries, while the top people in court administration throughout the state make more than the Governor.
Sakauye, Jahr and company remain very, very unclear on the concept of what is acceptable.
The Gov and the Legislature are giving a message with the Budget Sword. The message has NOT been heard by Tani & Co.
Don’t disagree with the walk away alternative. I don’t know what the contract provides but I assume the developers are still going to want to be paid. Won’t the AOC Be on the hook for the amount due under the contract if it walks away?
In the literature distributed by the developers they tout the risk-free nature of the transaction to the state of California basically saying if the state doesn’t pay the rent then the AOC will be evicted and the partner will have the right to use the building for the next 50 years. This is why everyone wants to see the actual contract and amendments to ensure that this is the only recourse, as is being advertised.
The AOC controls the communications of its various vendors and requires approvals for press releases or any other communications that is not strictly internal via their contract language, so it is possible that recourse could be greater and that the AOC didn’t permit their vendors to disclose that.
Furthermore, the Long Beach Justice Partners have the option of canceling the AOC’s lease and take possession of the building if the legislature does not insert a line-item appropriation in the budget to pay for it, primarily because there is no offsetting toll or fee to do so.
Published today, Tuesday, December 11, from The Metropolitan News Enterprise, by Kenneth Ofgang:
Budget ‘Sweep’ Imperils Trial Courts, CJA President Warns Governor
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
California’s trial courts will not be able to function if the Brown administration implements a plan to return unexpended reserves to the general fund at the end of the current fiscal year, the president of the California Judges Association said yesterday.
Sonoma Superior Court Judge Alan Hardcastle, in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, urged the state’s chief executive “to stand behind the plain language and meaning of the June 2012 budget act trailer bill,” which Hardcastle said “specifically contemplated a full two years for trial courts to spend down their accumulated fund balances.”
A copy of the letter was obtained by the MetNews.
Brown and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss the proposal by the Department of Finance to “sweep” $200 million in remaining court reserves at the end of the 2012–2013 fiscal year. Administrative Director of the Courts Steven Jahr wrote to branch members last Wednesday to explain the proposal and enlist their opposition.
The budget trailer language that Hardcastle was referring to appears in Government Code Sec. 77203, and reads:
“(a) Prior to June 30, 2014, a trial court may carry over all unexpended funds from the courts operating budget from the prior fiscal year.
“(b) Commencing June 30, 2014, a trial court may carry over unexpended funds in an amount not to exceed 1% of the courts operating budget from the prior fiscal year.”
Jahr explained in his letter last week that he had met on Tuesday with state Director of Finance Ana Matosantos, who had insisted that the administration’s budget agreement with the Legislature “anticipated sweeping these funds, despite the Budget Act trailer bill language.”
Jahr estimated that this will mean “a further $261 million of reduced support, totaling a reduction of $475 million to the trial courts statewide, despite all previously successful efforts to find offsets and obtain revenue enhancements.”
The chief justice, Jahr said, will warn Brown of the “dire consequences” of the sweep.
In his letter yesterday, Hardcastle similarly told the governor:
“Since the enactment of the budget act in June, the judicial branch and the trial courts in all 58 counties have operated on a business plan projecting a 24 month spend-down of reserve balances. Trial courts have been operating in good faith under that assumption for the first half of this fiscal year and trying to minimize the devastating effects of the ongoing cuts to the branch. Despite those efforts, courthouses are closing, hours are cut and staff are furloughed and laid off. Under the budget suggested by the Department of Finance to the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts the Judicial Branch will no longer be able to fulfill our constitutional obligation to California and we are nearing a crisis that will effectively eliminate access to justice to many Californians.”
He went on to say:
“As we pointed out during negotiations of this year’s budget, one year did not give courts sufficient time to adequately prepare for the change without drastically affecting the ability of courts to carry out their core functions. Nothing has changed in the last 6 months and CJA remains unclear as to the sudden change proposed by your office. Elimination of fund balances as you now propose will cripple branch operations.
“As courts adjust to the 2012-13 cuts it is becoming abundantly clear the judicial branch will be unable to fulfill its constitutional role. Accelerating these unsustainable cuts means that many parts of California will soon be without an official forum of resolving disputes.”
Ah yes unionman the budget sword. But the pain is felt by the trial courts not the AOC. The gov and the legislature need to cut off the head of the snake with that sword. They could do that by allocating funds specifically to the trial courts and bypass the snake altogether. Poof! A dead snake and lots of savings.
Isn’t that what the recent budget trailer bill language mandates — allocating funds specifically for/to the trial courts, for which that AOC can’t “claw back” funds unless a trial court has agreed to it?
I know about the PAIN. I feel it every day.
To our recent anonymous https:\\forms.hush.com\judicialcouncilwatcher tipster: Thanks for that. It was taken care of.
December 12, 2012
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Better get ready to “unload” courthouses that cannot be staffed by Trial Courts, or maintained any longer by the AOC…
[...] are bodies to bury, more lowpoints to reach, more money to pilfer to pay for Long Beach. Rearrange all these chairs up here on the deck. Who cares if the trial courts end up the [...]
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