As you probably observed in another thread, the AOC is under federal investigation over their mismanagement of the court interpreters program. Along with everything else they mismanage, the AOC has been managing the funds given to it by the state legislature for court interpreters. The way it works in practical terms is that a local court gets a bill for service rendered from a court interpreter. The local court then renders that bill to the AOC for reimbursement. The AOC defined a set of guidelines on the use and reimbursement related to court interpreters and of course, the appointees who could care less feigned governance over AOC control and approved these guidelines.
Courts would submit a pile of invoices to the AOC for court interpreter services. The AOC in turn would deny payment on a pile of invoices, paying some but not others. At the end of the year, whatever was left over in the court interpreters account was swept for AOC’s year-end purchasing binges to spend the money as they saw fit. Since the AOC runs their own internal court interpreters program that does no court interpreting, large charges to the fund can be covered up as the AOC’s expense of doing business. (example: let’s buy a few $40,000.00 email servers and a few web servers to support an individual in the court interpreters program, let’s furnish a new conference room on the 8th floor with court interpreters funds…, etc, etc……)
Over time, courts learned that if they wish to get reimbursed for hiring court interpreters, they must narrow the scope of the invoices submitted to the AOC. Meanwhile, the AOC learned that with 58 underlings that can’t possibly follow the ball in San Francisco, it was in their own financial best interests to declare that funds spent or limited funds were available to pay for these services, deny payments and sweep the excess funds for their own operations. Over time the amount of the sweeps grew and the amount of interpretive services dropped while the amount declared as being reimbursed to the courts was being fabricated by the AOC. At the end of the year, year after year an ever growing piece of the court interpreter pie was swept by the AOC as the cost of doing business.
In 2010 a complaint was filed with the U.S. Justice Departments civil rights division by the Legal Aid Society of Los Angeles on behalf of two Korean clients who were denied interpretive services by the Los Angeles Courts.
The reason the judges in this state have fallen silent as of late is because this is a serious issue that has gone on for years and has been getting worse and not better. It is an active federal investigation that will be leading to some changes in the court interpreters program to the detriment of the AOC. Will anyone actually go to jail for denying those invoices and sweeping those funds? One would hope but probably not. But what is described above is what was going down in the AOC’s court interpreters program and it should only take minimal effort by the justice department to verify that this what has happened to the court interpreters funds.
Today, both the Judicial Council and the AOC, both caught with their pants around their ankles is singing a new tune about “urban myths of payment denial” only because they’re in the feds crosshairs. Singing the loudest is Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye who promises to dispel these urban legends about court interpreter funds not being available.
There appears to be both a strategic and tactical element that parallels what is currently going on. You’ve probably noticed two things in the past six or so weeks.
1. You haven’t seen any Alliance of California Judges media releases anywhere.
2. You have witnessed an unprecedented crack-down on dissent with the judicial council pushing through new rules, new opinions and new procedures all designed to silence dissent because those in power know that it is an ethics violation to comment on a party to pending or impending litigation and it is much easier to push through this Orwellian utopia on the rest of the judicial branch while the judicial branch critics are silenced as a matter of law.
While rank and file across the judicial branch wonders where the voices of reason disappeared to in the last six or so weeks, they now have their answer.
The challenge is what can be done to stop the Orwellian Utopia that those in power are imposing on others?
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Here is the 92 page report CFWG-09-05-12-San-Diego referenced by Judge Maino in the comments section of this post.
California is a “Judicial Hellhole?”