Bureaucrats Back Out of Billionaire Bequeath

Posted on December 30, 2011





December 29, 2011

Dear Members and Others:

The Alliance of California Judges is pleased that our judicial branch leaders have abandoned the misguided effort to fund with private dollars the troubled California Case Management System. From the beginning, this potential funding scheme lacked transparency having been the subject of a surprise announcement during the October Judicial Council meeting. We later learned that ongoing discussions between high ranking AOC bureaucrats and the supposed “benefactor/philanthropist” had been in the works for at least a year. Just as troubling to the Alliance and others was the obvious potential for conflicts of interest and the protection of confidential personal records that are filed in many cases. We are gratified that it took less than the allotted twelve weeks of “due diligence”to arrive at the obvious conclusion that this was not an appropriate course of action.

This aborted public/private venture underscores the need for greater scrutiny of how our branch leaders are making decisions about our limited public resources. Continuing to fund the discredited CCMS at the expense of fully functioning local trial courts should not be allowed to continue. That is one of the reasons the Alliance continues to support AB 1208 which will help to restore some semblance of reason and balance to the judicial branch.

What follows is today’s AOC press release (jcw – pdf omitted) together with today’s excellent story from the Courthouse News Service titled “After Singing Praise of Private Investor, Judicial Administrators Beat Hasty Retreat”.

Thank you for your support.


Alliance of California Judges

CCMS ‘Due Diligence’ Talks Suspended

Judicial Council committee, Foundation, State Bar shelve exploratory talks

SAN FRANCISO—The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation Board and the Executive and Planning Committee of the Judicial Council, stating that a collaborative relationship on the early deployment of the California Case Management System (CCMS) was more complex than anticipated—particularly with the Foundation’s desire to target problems in the foster care system—voted yesterday in separate actions to endorse a recommendation to suspend talks designed to explore the potential use of grant money and other resources for the early deployment of CCMS. The recommendation was a mutual decision by the Chan Soon-Shiong Foundation, the State Bar of California, and the CCMS Internal Committee, the Judicial Council committee overseeing the CCMS project.

In December, the three parties began a 12-week due diligence period to more fully explore the viability of the collaborative approach.

“Our interest in supporting CCMS emanated from our observation of the tragic state of the foster child system in California and the opportunity for CCMS to play a significant role in reducing placements in abusive homes,” said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation. “The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation is committed to the health and welfare of our community, and our interest in supporting CCMS in terms of data exchange is in the system’s ability to provide a digital alert to the child welfare agency whenever a person involved in a foster care case shows activity in the courts overall system involving child abuse, drug abuse, and other criminal activity. Unfortunately, other aspects of the system are much more complex than we initially understood and will require much more sustainable resources outside of philanthropy,” he said.

“It also became clear to us in the due diligence phase that a collaborative relationship would be more complex than anticipated, particularly with the Foundation’s overarching desire to target problems in the foster care system,” said Ronald G. Overholt, Interim Administrative Director.

The Foundation expressed that it may remain interested in working with the Judicial Council to deploy CCMS in ways that would protect foster children in California to guarantee that foster home placements do not expose children to unsafe elements.

“The proposed collaborative approach was a great out-of-the-box solution to a public sector funding challenge,” said State Bar President Jon Streeter.

Executive Director Joseph Dunn said, “It was agreed long ago that the judicial branch would maintain exclusive ownership of CCMS as well as continue to maintain control of the source code, security and access to data pursuant to policies established by the branch.”

Funding for the CCMS project was reduced to $14 million for the fiscal year 2011-2012 during an emergency budget session last July. At that time, the Judicial Council approved a transfer of $56.4 million from CCMS to the Trial Court Trust Fund in order to lessen the impact of the $320 million reduction to the trial courts.

Douglas P. Miller, the chair of the council’s Executive and Planning Committee, which sets the agenda for Judicial Council meetings, said the Council must ratify the recommendation at its next meeting on January 24th. He said a fuller discussion about CCMS will occur later in the year. “Our internal committee is awaiting a comprehensive, independent financial and deployment analysis from Grant Thornton, a national auditing and consulting firm already familiar with the project. We hope to get that report by March.”

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