What a difference a day makes: AB1208 passes

Posted on January 31, 2012

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January 30, 2012
Dear Members and Fellow Judges:
We wish to announce to all our members and fellow judges that AB 1208 has passed the Assembly upon a vote of 42- 23 (one member added her vote at the end of the session).  This is an historic step for reform of the judiciary and the reaffirmation of the independence of the constitutional trial courts and judges.  We look forward to moving the process to the California Senate.

The following is a statement we issued to the media:

We are pleased that the California Assembly has passed AB 1208.  This is an essential step in a process of judicial reform that began in the Fall of 2009.

We thank the Members of the Assembly for at all times according the Alliance of California Judges a full and fair hearing upon the merits of the legislation and for their final decision to pass the measure.

We also thank our many hundreds of members and others who have worked tirelessly to advance the principles of this legislation.

It is a very difficult time for the courts. We hope that this will now be a new opportunity for the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council to accept our longstanding request to meet and discuss a fair resolution of the issues.

Judge David Lampe, Kern County

Judge W. Kent Hamlin, Fresno County

Judge Tia Fisher, Los Angeles County

Judge Susan Lopez-Giss, Los Angeles County

Judge Dan Goldstein, Dan Diego County

Judge Maryanne Gilliard, Sacramento County

Judge Steve White, Sacramento County

Judge Kevin McCormick, Sacramento County

Judge Andy Banks, Orange County

Judge Mike Hayes, Orange County

Judge Jeff Burke, San Luis Obispo County

Judge John Somers, Kern County

Judge Mark Forcum, San Mateo County

Justice Thomas Hollenhorst

The Chief Justice issued the following statement immediately after the vote:

“People who know the facts know that this is no victory for Californians, for our state courts, or for equal access to justice. Our focus now turns to the Senate where we will continue to disseminate current and accurate information about the needs of the trial courts and the people of our state and the detrimental impact that this bill will have on meeting those needs. I thank all of those who have worked so hard on behalf of a fair justice system and who will, I know, continue to do so because of their commitment to the equal administration of justice across the state.”

The following is an excerpt from a letter we sent to Assembly Members on the morning of the vote:

We have met with the current Chief Justice. We met with her in November of 2010. We explained that we had been working for a year on this legislative solution, but asked her to work with us. She was well aware of our efforts as a member of the Judicial Council.  [Judge David Lampe] met with her after the bill was introduced and asked her to put a delegation together to meet with us to determine if we could work out a compromise. We have heard nothing in response to these invitations. The offers stand.

_____________________________________________________

A note from JudicialCouncilWatcher

For the last thirteen months, the current chief justice has been engaged in window dressing. What has been exposed here and elsewhere shakes the conscience of the common man and undermines the public confidence in our judicial branch.

Undermining public confidence in judicial branch governance was not our doing, nor was it the fault of the Alliance of California Judges, the Los Angeles court system, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State & Municipal Employees, the states police officers or certain members of the media who backed this bill and worked tirelessly and independently to get this off the assembly floor. You can’t blame it on democrats. You can’t blame it on republicans as this bill was about as bipartisan as a bill can get in California.

Undermining public confidence in judicial branch governance can be attributed to the blind puppet in a fake tree and her leadership team of long time judicial council cronies. It is also attributed to the current failed leadership team of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Yesterdays vote was nothing less than a stunning rebuke of chutzpah, of false claims and other versions of the truth.

Today a new dawn is on the horizon but don’t believe for a second that our job is done yet. The AOC continues to rip money away from local trial courts to fiercely lobby against the legislation. The AOC is fiercely lobbying for their own survival, for the right to expand their operations further, for the right to take a greater piece of the pie and to dismantle our civil justice system via backdoor litigation reform all to preserve their empire, to justify their stratospheric salaries, to justify their unchecked growth.

There are a few others that worked tirelessly to ensure this legislation was passed and we would be remiss in not mentioning them. We can’t mention them all because we don’t know them all. But we’ve seen judges from courts large and small across the state and a clear majority of the ACJ as well as the CJA that backed this bill. We’ve watched the unions who initially had a lukewarm response to the legislation back it in a big way.

Judicial Council Watcher is also aware of the former AOC employees that not only exposed the problems, they set out to do something about it. A special thanks goes out to former AOC and court employees Paula Negley, Jack Uruqhart, Merilee Fielding, Michael Paul, Jon Wintermayer  and several others who unwittingly sacrificed their careers to call attention to the waste, the fraud and the mismanagement that created the need for this bill.

While our work remains unfinished, one thing is perfectly clear:

We can do this.

On behalf of all of us here at JCW, we wish to thank each and every one of our thousands of readers and the hundreds of people who took a stand for freedom, democracy and justice. Contrary to the lip service of our chief justice, the people are the real winners here.