Judge Rosenberg takes the point and is picked off..

Posted on January 9, 2012

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Dear Members,
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We attach for your information an email message from Yolo County Presiding Judge David Rosenberg.  Many of you know that Judge Rosenberg is a non voting member of the Judicial Council and recently was hand picked as the chair of the Council’s Presiding Judges Committee.
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In his email, Judge Rosenberg implores the PJ’s of our state to sign a form letter in OPPOSITION to AB 1208. We find this request misguided and wrong for the following reasons. The 400 member Alliance of California Judges sponsored the bill and a plurality of members of the California Judges Association by plebiscite have indicated support for AB 1208. The courts of Los Angeles, Kern, Sacramento, San Mateo, Mariposa, and Amador counties have officially endorsed the legislation. A majority of trial judges support the legislation. Also, the Judicial Council’s position on this bill has been to simply oppose. The Alliance has asked more than once to meet to discuss and compromise on the language and to meet in good faith to see if some agreement could be reached. Those efforts have been met with silence. Instead the Council has relied upon their large governmental affairs staff and willing Council members and associates to kill this important measure that simply assures funding to the trial courts. This bill is essential. For instance, the Judicial Council continues to expend limited funds on the disgraced CCMS project.
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By this email we ask that you take the time to contact your local Assembly member and register your support for AB 1208.  We additionally request that you let us know who you have contacted and what their position on the bill is if you are able to discern this. AB 1208 must pass the Assembly by January 31st, so time is of the essence.
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We also request that you contact your PJ and urge them not to sign this form letter.The trial judges of this state should independently weigh in on this measure without pressure from the AOC/Judicial Council.
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We have also included for your information Judge Rosenberg’s web site which you may find of interest.
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Thank you for your support and efforts. Again, please let us if you were able to contact your Assembly member.
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Directors,
Alliance of California Judges
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From: Rosenberg Dave
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 7:47 AM

Subject: January 5, 2012

Colleagues,

How time flies.  This will be my first “newsletter” to PJ’s in the New Year.  And a challenging a year it will be.    The focus of this newsletter will be limited to two subjects.

The 2012 Budget.   All of us in State Government await the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The first salvo in the development of the 2012-13 budget will occur on January 10 when the Governor will release his initial proposal.   Your Executive Committee of the TCPJAC is scheduled to meet within days (on January 13), to begin the process of digesting and discussing the Governor’s proposal and how it may affect the Branch.  Of course, this is just the beginning – the development of the State Budget  is a lengthy and often convoluted process.  Hopefully, a Budget will be adopted before July 1, 2012 – but there is no guarantee that will occur before the start of the fiscal year.  How the Judicial Branch will be affected – time will tell.  But, as I have said before, in these difficult times it is imperative that this Judicial Branch work together and speak in as unified a way as possible.  It is perfectly appropriate for there to be discussions, debates and disagreements within this Branch – but let’s keep it that way: within this Branch.  Let’s sort matters out in the Branch, and then communicate to the Executive and Legislative Branches together.

AB 1208.  This bill makes significant changes in the governance of the Judicial Branch.  The bill was very controversial and did not make it through the legislative process when introduced last year, and it is now a two-year bill.  As a two-year bill, AB 1208 must be brought to the floor of the Assembly by the end of this month or it dies.  So the next two-three weeks are critical in consideration of the bill.  Frankly, I do not know what the final version of the bill might look like.  The author has indicated that he is working on amendments, but we do not know what they are at this point in time.  We do not know when it will be brought to the floor.  In any event, the bill  is opposed by the Judicial Council.  I have attached, for your information, a background fact sheet on the bill, prepared by AOC staff.     And here is a link to the current version of the bill for your information and background:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1201-1250/ab_1208_bill_20110518_amended_asm_v97.pdf

The bill contains a number of convoluted, confusing and game-changing passages, such as the following:

“Government Code section 77202(b)(3). [T]he Judicial Council, or its designee, shall not withhold or expend any portion of the total funds appropriated for trial court operations by the Legislature for any statewide information technology or administrative infrastructure program, including the California Case Management System, that was not identified in the annual Budget Act, unless the Judicial Council, or its designee, first obtains the written approval of 66 2/3 percent of a proportional representation of all local trial courts.  For purposes of this paragraph, proportional representation shall be calculated according to the number of judges in the superior court of each county as a percentage of the total number of judges authorized by Section 4 of Article VI of the California Constitution in all county superior courts statewide.”

Wow!  As you can see, a small number of the largest courts (even as few as 2 or 3) could have a veto power over these expenditures, simply by not giving “written approval”.  And the passage raises a myriad number of questions.  For example, who provides the written approval of the trial court – is it the PJ, the Executive Committee, a vote of all the Judges, or what?

For me, personally, however, the biggest single problem with AB 1208 is the timing.   We have a new Chief Justice, in office only one year, who is beginning the process of actively addressing Judicial Branch issues of concern to all of us (even in these difficult financial times).  And, as a result, changes in the governance of this Branch are being made.   I strongly believe we need to give our new CJ a fair opportunity to address these issues within the Branch.  I have grave concerns about the Legislature intervening in Judicial Branch governance.

Your action is requested:  I have attached a proposed letter opposing AB 1208 which I intend to send to the members of the Assembly next week.  I have signed the letter.  I cordially invite YOU, as a PJ, to add your name to the letter.  Time, however, is of the essence.  If you would like to add your name to the letter, please let us know on or before the close of business on Tuesday, January 10.    I have asked Donna Hershkowitz to compile this information for me, so you agree to add your name to the letter please send your concurrence toDonna.Herskowitz@jud.ca.gov.

Another thing you might consider doing (if you feel up to it) is to make a personal call to your member of the Assembly and let him/her know how you feel about this bill.

Cordially,

Dave Rosenberg
Chair, TCPJAC

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A link to Mr. Rosenberg’s site: http://www.daverosenberg.net/

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JCW’s first impression of Mr. Rosenberg’s letter?
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JCW discussion points:

The Chief Justice had the opportunity to hit the ground running and make her mark on the judicial branch and the AOC. “It’s only been a few months” is what we heard last year. “It’s only been a year” is what we’re hearing now and next year it will be “She’s only been in office for two years.”

There is a perfectly logical reason why we refer to the Chief Justice as mini-mimi and that is because there’s been little meaningful change since the reign of King George ended. We continue to call upon the chief justice to demonstrate that she’s her own person, that she recognizes a problem when everybody but her appears to see it and that she’s willing to do something about it. And – that they are numerous.

The ploy to set up a strategic evaluation committee and scheduling them to issue a controversial report that will be blessing the AOC shortly before a general election is disingenuous.

Do you support AB1208?

The legislature reads JCW so why don’t you tell them about it.