|Dear Chief Justice and Judicial Council Members,
My name is Michael Paul.I’m well known to all of you because I was one of
the principal engineers of the computer networks and systems that you
utilize on a daily basis. I was also responsible for information technology
design and construction throughout the judicial branch so I am well known to
the trial courts as well. My knowledge and competency in my areas of
expertise remains unquestioned and unchallenged. My unrecognized
accomplishments are numerous. I am the individual the AOC IT department
relied upon numerous times to get derailed, budget-busting projects back on
track and completed. These included the deployment of Microsoft Exchange to
all appellate courts and the deployment of Windows XP throughout the AOC.
Your administrative agency relied upon me to prevent information technology
I am writing to you today on behalf of the taxpaying citizens of the great
state of California and on behalf of Judicial Branch employees everywhere
who share my views but are unable to speak up out of a well founded fear of
retribution. If they didn’t fear retribution, then the only way you could
prove that to them is by giving me my old job back – or formally recognize
my accomplished investigation of these matters and grant me a similar job in
an oversight role auditing IT & construction projects.
A few years ago, the Los Angeles courts were running into budgetary
challenges and the AOC had gotten wind that L.A. was considering a Wednesday
furlough. In what I would describe as a leadership crisis, AOC and Judicial
Council leadership desired to do something about the budgetary challenges
facing the judicial branch. In addition to asking for suggestions of
judicial branch employees on how we might be able to save money in these
hard economic times a decision was made to close all courts on the third
Wednesday of every month.
It took no effort whatsoever for me to survey the landscape and find
offsetting savings that would have made those furloughs unnecessary. Yet our
judicial branch leadership had a more nefarious objective. The call for
money saving ideas was window dressing to the political objective of sending
a message to Sacramento about trial court funding. Leadership did not want,
nor would accept any money saving ideas from Judicial Branch employees and
my sound advice was never considered.
There were two money saving ideas I had submitted. One was to address the
unlicensed contractor debacle. At the time, I had made the recommendation
that the AOC consider going after “Team Jacobs”, a joint venture of Jacobs
Engineering Group and ABM for their unlicensed activity. I had been made
aware that by this time, these unlicensed contractors had been paid more
than twice of what would be saved by furloughing people in the trial courts.
Supporting my assertions was a California Supreme Court decision. The
California Supreme Court held in MW Erectors, Inc v. Neiderhauser Ornamental
and Metal Works Company, Inc that contractors that were unlicensed at any
time during a project cannot sue (or otherwise recover payment) unless they
satisfy a narrow statutory safe harbor for contractors substantially
complying with licensing laws. An unlicensed contractors forfeiture is
required even if equity – principles of fundamental fairness – compels
payment to the unlicensed contractor. (05 C.D.OS.6163 (July 14, 2005)
Undisputed was the fact that “Team Jacobs” was an unlicensed joint venture
of two companies. Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, California and ABM
or American Building Maintenance. Jacobs Engineering Group had no
contractors license whatsoever. ABM had a janitorial license to clean up
construction sites. Because they were operating with a “doing business in
the courts as” Team Jacobs, they qualified for the lowest level license held
between them, which was no license at all because Jacobs Engineering Group
had no contractors license.
Even if Jacobs Engineering Group had a “B” general construction license,
which they didn’t, ABM only held a janitorial license. Again, all the joint
venture could legally do is clean up a construction site if Jacobs
Engineering Group was licensed. And yet all of this was ignored and the
steering of no-bid, obscenely priced construction projects continued without
abatement, while the AOC ignored my proof and my idea to save the judicial
The second money saving idea had to do with leveraging stimulus funds.
Dennis Leung, Bennet Gilbert and I had presented a proposal to utilize ARRA
funding to retrofit all newly inherited courthouses with updated automated
building control systems for energy efficiency. One – it would have cost the
AOC nothing to grab the low hanging fruit of stimulus funds for this
project. Indeed we heard that other divisions were considering stimulus
funding for some of their projects as well. Low hanging fruit.
Our idea was accepted and then placed on a never-ending treadmill by OCCM
management of data collection and analysis by the service providers until
such time that the window closed on stimulus fund grants.
We were astonished that so much money was permitted to slip out of the AOC’s
hands, given the dire budget situation back then which has been greatly
exacerbated by poor leadership decisions into nothing less than the
financial Armageddon our courts face today. This Armageddon is partly
because of budgetary concerns and largely because of mismanagement and
misplaced priorities of current programs. To us, it was easy. We indicated
we needed less than six months to survey all buildings and develop a plan
for all buildings. Instead,we were told that the service providers would
manage the entire process. This would be the unlicensed contractor, Team
Jacobs performing this work according to Facilities Management Unit Senior
Manager Fred Stetson.
Today, in an effort to assist Jacobs Engineering Group to meet the narrow
safeharbor provisions of MW Erectors, the AOC disclaims the existence of
Team Jacobs and ABM’s participation in Team Jacobs, insisting that the AOC
only did business with JFI or Jacobs Facilities Incorporated of St. Louis,
Missouri, who had permitted their licensure to expire.
While researching this claim, I noticed that Illinois Governor George Ryan
was sitting in Federal Correctional Institution, Terre Haute Indiana in part
because JFI employees had paid a bribe for insider bidding information.
Furthermore, I began to research the claim that the AOC was not doing
business with “Team Jacobs” but was instead doing business with JFI and that
the AOC never did business with Team Jacobs. This attempt to create the
narrow safeharbor for Jacobs has had two detrimental results. One, it
compromises the litigation against the unlicensed contractors by colluding
to create a safeharbor where none exists. Two, it allowed ABM to escape
responsibility for their role, resulting in the AOC recently issuing ABM a
ten year contract for facilities maintenance in the SRO region.
Everything above warrants an independent investigation from an outside
source not associated with the Judicial Branch. I urge the Judicial Council
to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation to have them look into my
well documented allegations and vigorously pursue all parties whose hands
are unclean. This will unquestionably include the unclean hands of AOC
Onto our beloved CCMS program: This program was, is and has always been run
by individuals who have no expertise in software design and development
projects. Neither Sheila Calabro, nor Mark Moore have any expertise in
software development. Mark Moore has limited experience in managing
contractors for software deployment in the form of the CCPOR system. Beyond
that, he lacks the experience for the position he occupies. This project has
been the subject of unending criticism by Mark Moore’s own staff and that
staff includes the entire TSG team, the most senior Information Technology
engineers in the AOC of which I was a part of. The AOC’s IT department has
split everything into trial court projects and AOC/Supreme/Appellate
projects. Trial Court projects are contracted out for the most part with no
meaningful oversight or cost controls and when I point this out, I am
pointing squarely at Deloitte and their role in CCMS as well as SAIC (and
before them, Seimens) and the CCTC or the California Courts Technology
Center, ironically located in Tempe Arizona.
The AOC can provide no proof nor case examples of Deloitte’s success in
delivering any project of similar size and scope to CCMS. Flat zero. And yet
the judicial council has permitted CCMS to morph into one of the largest
software boondoggles in U.S. history. It is being written by a company with
a terribly troubled past on projects a fraction of CCMS’s size and scope.
The AOC did not hire a software development company to deliver a product.
They hired a consulting company to deliver consulting. Consulting is all the
AOC has been able to deliver to the trial courts.
In April of this year, in an effort to preserve funding for CCMS and in a
lame attempt to save face, the AOC accepted as complete a bug riddled
application with an unachievable architectural design. The fact that the
application is not complete is evidenced by continued development funding
that the Judicial Council is weighing against keeping trial court doors
open. This shouldn’t even be a consideration. The obligation of the judicial
council is to consider judicial branch goals with regards to priorities.
Your primacy to the people you serve is to keep courthouse doors open during
normal business hours for there can be no justice without access to the
justice system and that access to justice starts at the courthouse doors. It
does not start in the offices of Deloitte’s consulting business. How you as
a council can even consider the face saving measure of dumping more money
into a bug riddled application with a challenged architectural design calls
into question your fitness for the positions you hold both on the council
and in the court system, for there can be no justice if there are no clerks,
no courtrooms or no unlocked courthouse doors.
Maybe this is all an attempt to advocate anarchy and the dispensation of
street justice as to justify the need for the central bureaucracy and its
programs. From my analysis, I can comfortably state that this council has
lost its way and has undermined five of the six goals that represent the
judicial branch mantra.
Goal 1. Access, Fairness and Diversity is undermined when you bar access by
diverting trial court funds, causing them to shut down.
Goal 2. Independence and Accountability – You are independent yet subject to
checks and balances that you seemingly heartily disclaim. That independence
is threatened because you have breached your fiduciary responsibility to the
people you serve and they know it. You as an institution will do anything
necessary to avoid holding anyone accountable, instead choosing to make up
some new award and present it to those in crisis. There is no accountability
and if there was, I would still be employed and the criminals that are
trying to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes with respect to Team Jacobs
and CCMS would be out of a job.
Goal 3. Modernization of Management & Administration can only be achieved
when you recognize that current systems are irreparably broken, the largest
of which is public and the balance of the Judicial Branch’s trust in this
council and the AOC. Please take steps to modernize this council by
democratizing it. Please take steps of regaining the public trust by asking
the entire AOC management team to step down, end CCMS and turn court
construction over to an agency that is legally accountable – the Department
of General Services. You as council members are in way over your head and it
is obvious to everyone.
Goal 4. Quality of Justice and service to the public – Without cleaning up
your own back yard, you can never begin to serve the public. There can be no
talk of the quality of justice without first having access to it.
Goal 6. Branch wide infrastructure for Service Excellence – This branch wide
infrastructure for service excellence is rooted in your court maintenance
and construction programs, CCMS and technology upgrades to the information
technology infrastructure. By all accounts, both the public and the courts
give you a D minus in the first two programs and a B in the last. Embrace
what you do well. Admit defeat and spurn that which serves as a blight upon
Finally, I have been asked by Judicial Council Watcher to comment on the
recent fact check web page labeled Fact Check: Court Maintenance Funding
deployed at the behest of Chief Deputy Director Ron Overholt in response to
the allegations set forth by former AOC Facilities Management Administrator
Uzoma Okoro (I hope I spelled it right)
The allegation is that the AOC has taken money from new construction project
budgets appropriated by the department of finance and the legislature and
mis-spent on courthouse maintenance. Your fact check site fails to address
the allegation and makes the false representation that this activity is
permissible. It is not permissible to steal money from the Stockton
courthouse construction budget to fund algae, gum removal or changing light
bulbs or air fresheners on the Sacramento Courthouse. These funds have been
miss-spent and the resignations of all parties involved are demanded,
including the resignation of Ron Overholt, who is seeking to deceive the
rest of the judicial branch with his new fact check page. It amounts to a
lie by omission to the allegations set forth.
In conclusion, this institution needs democratization. The AOC needs to
start off with a clean slate to win the pubic trust and the trust of the
trial courts they purport to serve. In my mind that can only occur when this
council chooses to bite the bullet and to clean house from top to bottom.
One way of achieving this is to accept deep cuts in the AOC’s budget, eject
the costly boondoggles and the people associated with them. The other part
of cleaning house would include contacting the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and enduring the subsequent fallout of their findings. What
will be left are those whose hands are relatively clean. Only then will you
be able to win the trust of the trial courts and the public. Until then,
this council also serves as a blight upon the judiciary due to their
Thank you for your time.
Former Senior Technical Analyst – AOC
President and Chief Technology Officer
Yen Interactive Media Group
A proud sponsor of Judicial Council Watcher