Letters to the Editor: CCMS Boondoggle is but a symptom of a more serious problem

Posted on February 27, 2011


Courtesy of Judge Charles Horan via SFGATE

Supreme Court Justice Ming W. Chin wrote a Feb. 18 Open Forum in support of the controversial statewide court computer system known as CCMS. While no one disputes the need for modern computers, the justice is completely off base in supporting this $1.9 billion boondoggle. After an exhaustive investigation, the state auditor delivered her conclusion: The Administrative Office of the Courts and the California Judicial Council completely botched this project (sfg.ly/gINxis).

The administrative office said the total project would cost $250 million, while the auditor now pegs the true price at between $1.9 billion and $3 billion. We simply can’t afford this – we lack funding to even keep our courts open.

The auditor’s findings were devastating, but the reactions of the administrative office and the council were equally disturbing. Confronted with 138 pages documenting years of mismanagement, misrepresentations, scripted responses to criticism, and an absence of council oversight, the administrative office and the council responded with a scripted video, which reassured us that all was well, and that any problems had now been solved simply by creating a new committee. Enough is enough. Our branch must have the trust of the public and the Legislature in order to function. If we condone the conduct uncovered by the auditor, or the bureaucratic spin that followed her report, we will not have nor deserve that trust.

We need to face the larger truth: Our judicial governance structure is broken. Some of our leaders appear arrogant, and others too accustomed to power. Things must change.

Fourteen years ago, the Legislature instructed the Judicial Council to enact a “trial court bill of financial management rights” by Jan. 1, 1998, precisely so this situation would never occur. The just-introduced AB1208, authored by Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, will bring this long-awaited legislative goal to fruition.

For far too long, a small, insular minority has allowed the administrative office to hide behind our robes. It is time for that to stop, and it will.

Charles Horan is a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and a director of the Alliance of California Judges.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/23/ED2J1HT3J7.DTL#ixzz1FCHi3LHD

We certainly hope it stops soon. – JCW