34 Days – Sacrificing the credibility of a whole organization over a few bad apples

Posted on August 13, 2011


We at Judicial Council Watcher are elated to hear that 25 layoff notices have been rescinded but 25 is not enough. Anyone with any current experience waiting at the counters of San Francisco Courts knows that the windows now are plentiful, yet the clerks to man them are in short supply. This situation will only get worse and not better.  As far as we know, our friends in the San Joaquin courts are still compelled to shut down one courthouse while the AOC builds Stockton another. Apparently, the AOC is charging other maintenance projects against San Joaquin’s new construction budget – a management style that is being repeated all over California.




Of course it is only speculation that when nothing concrete comes out of a meeting between the chief justice and bar leaders, that it was quite possible that some current issues may have been the subject of discussion. After all, it is only the AOC and the Judicial Council that can come up with funding that already exists to prevent the wholesale elimination of most of San Francisco’s civil justice system. With only 4 weeks left in this legislative session and no apparent concrete action plan being visibly executed by any group our constitutional crisis continues.  What we know for certain is that numerous legislators are aware of the judicial branch issues from inside the judicial branch, thanks to the judges that have reached out to them and readers just like you that have reached out to them. Please continue to do so.

With the Supreme Court taking up the matter of redevelopment agencies and a potential to unravel an already fragile budget, we’re challenged to not recognise the numerous arrangements being made around the state to work with redevelopment agencies by the administrative offices of the courts that might hamper some existing acquisition plans should the plucking of these funds come to fruition. While some might argue that there is some organizational separation, we would argue that it is a conflict of interest that should be heard by the federal and not state courts. A tactical alternative would be for the state legislature to sweep funding for CCMS and Court Construction, eliminating the conflicts of interests between the judicial branch and redevelopment agencies statewide. We heard mumblings of such an endeavor for different reasons. In our mind, the legislature should consider a plan that sweeps all of these funds in the next 4 weeks and re-apportions those funds amongst the trial courts.

It would be unfair to shift the burden of todays liabilities on future generations of taxpayers, which seems to be a strong philosophy held by one political party, while the other political party would prefer to pay as you go. We continue to endorse blocking the Fall bond sale for court construction. All of the feverish silliness to get more projects in the pipeline than AOC can possibly manage with so few people must end. There are so few people spread across so many projects that serious concerns are going unaddressed. Competent engineering reviews are now non-existent within the AOC on many systems, placing ever more reliance on the contractors and designers that are working the projects with predictable cost overrun results and unsatisfactory mistakes. These complaints are coming from the contractors and the design consultants on the projects themselves – as well as the courts – and they are getting louder. While we’re privy to them because we’re reaching out, we think others should be making Mark Martin (mark.martin@asm.ca.gov) aware of these issues directly.

http://www.govabuse.org ,  http://www.blindbulldog.com and the local chapter of the California Protective Parents association http://www.protectiveparents.com/ all launched a protest against the Shasta County courts, home of the only 18 year appointee to the bench, Jack Halpin. We want to thank KRCR ABC News, Channel 7 for covering the issues.

We think it’s high time to end these follies and get rid of the few bad apples.