The Need to Treat the Legislature with Respect & commentary from JCW

Posted on February 4, 2012

12


February 3, 2012

Dear Members and Others:

Yesterday the AOC sent to members of the judiciary, and apparently certain media outlets, a document entitled: “Fact Check: Correcting the False Claims Behind AB 1208.” We are concerned that that the Judiciary not accuse unidentified Assembly members of making “false claims on the Assembly floor.”

Within hours of this missive, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who spoke in favor of AB 1208, issued a detailed rebuttal and we include a link to that response. We also include a very brief comment concerning other areas in the “Fact Check” document that may have been better worded.

The Alliance believes it is not in the best interests of the judiciary to have the Judicial Council and the AOC engaging in personal attacks on the Legislature. We understand their disappointment in the outcome of the Assembly vote and, in particular, the mere 24 “no” votes that were obtained after months of their expensive and time consuming lobbying. Nevertheless, it is incumbent on all of us to comport ourselves in a dignified manner and to show respect for the Legislative branch of government. In addition, we question the wisdom of a strategy that impugns the integrity of members of the legislature while at the same time asking those same members to restore funding to the branch.

Here are just a few of the other assertions of “false claims” in the AOC’s “Fact Check” document, and a more complete detailing of the facts on which those assertions were likely based, many of which come from the AOC’s own documents and reports:

Claim at Assembly Hearing: “$8,000 was spent on gum removal at the Sacramento Courthouse.”

AOC’s Response: “The six-day project, which was requested by the Sacramento Superior Court and had the court’s involvement and approval, involved pressure-washing and steam-cleaning of more than an acre of walkways and plaza to remove gum, feces, urine, and dirt in preparation for treating a slick walking area to remove slip and fall hazards.”

Reality: Presiding Judge Steve White of the Sacramento Superior Court testified before the Assembly Accountability Oversight Committee in August, 2010, that the judges of his court did not approve of $8,000 for gum removal.  Mr. Vickrey and Mr. Overholt attended and testified at this hearing.  It is possible that they did not hear Judge White’s testimony.  When questioned by legislators, the AOC did report that the clean up required special processing as the concrete surrounding the courthouse not only had affixed gum but also feces.  Presiding Judge White has reported that he disputes the feces claim made by the AOC in justifying the expenditure. Moreover, if the AOC wants to justify the expense by referring to the entire project to clean walkways and the plaza at the Gordon Schraber Courthouse,their records reflect that the total for the two-phase project was in fact more than $18,000.

Claim at Assembly Hearing: “CCMS is a $1.9 billion computer system that doesn’t work.”

AOC’s Response: “CCMS is finished and works. It took nine years to refine and develop at a cost of  $315.5 million.”

Reality: CCMS is not finished. The AOC has redefined CCMS development by excluding necessary development aspects which were previously considered development, now calling them deployment. By virtue of semantics and changing definitions, the AOC now reports completion, though the AOC is still engaged with contractors in development projects. Additionally, the AOC’s own report to the Legislature in May of 2011 estimated a total cost of CCMS program expenditures through fiscal year 2012-2013 at $759,468,347 (see their Attachment 1A at page 31 of the report).  The State Auditor testified before the Legislature on February 15, 2011, following the release of her CCMS audit.  During her testimony, she stated “poor cost estimates and uncertain funding have plagued the system.”  When asked her opinion as to potential costs, she testified that the price tag could climb as high as $3 billion. (http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/02/15/34212.htm).

Further AOC Response: “Its value as a branch asset has been outlined in the Grant Thornton Cost Benefit Analysis, versions of CCMS are currently being used in seven trial courts on a daily basis, and the award-winning California Courts Protective Order Registry (CCPOR) was created out of CCMS. This 21st Century Courts product will allow Californians to work online rather than wait in line.”

Reality: The Grant Thornton Analysis was based on assumptions that are already outdated. The CCPOR was not “created out of CCMS,” but rather was the work of AOC employees who developed the core product. Many county courts which do not use CCMS are successfully implementing CCPOR, which is in fact a separate product that can be interfaced with CCMS, but was not “created out of CCMS.”

Further Reality: The CCMS project is not nearly complete and it has been plagued by a lack of adequate planning and cost controls, failure to develop accurate cost estimates and failure to secure adequate funding for statewide deployment of the system, thereby diminishing its value. All of these problems have been detailed by the state auditor in a report dated February 2011. The executive summary of the report summarizes the failings of this poorly managed project.

Conclusion: AB 1208 addresses a core problem with the current trial court funding model.  Trial court judges are independent constitutional officers charged with the duty to deliver adjudicative services to their citizens within their jurisdictional boundaries.

Current law does not require that the Judicial Council fully deliver all of the money which the Legislature has appropriated to the trial courts. AB 1208 amends current law to require the Judicial Council or its designee to allocate 100 percent of the funds appropriated for trial court operations by the Legislature, according to each court’s share of statewide operational funding.

The time has come to stop fighting against AB 1208, and to start talking about how to implement its core principles through agreed statutory changes. We should be working together in the branch to find permanent and lasting solutions to the fiscal crisis in our trial courts. AB 1208 is an essential first step.

Now is the time for judges of the Judicial Council to graciously accept criticism and responsibility for a bureaucracy that desperately needs reform. Almost all of the legislators who spoke on AB 1208, whether for or against, addressed the need for that reform. Now is the time to listen to those in the Legislative, Judicial and Executive branches, as well as those in the public, who believe the judicial branch is in need of fundamental change. This is not the time to wage a war with the Legislature while we seek to restore funding to our trial courts.

Sincerely,

Directors

Alliance of California Judges

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JCW: Yes folks, 3/4 of a billion dollars spent and you have nothing to show for it other than thousands of lost jobs lost to a system that actually will require that you hire extra people to run it.

Corrections and Clarifications from JCW

Down towards the end of this thread we’ve sought to clarify the opaqueness surrounding CCMS. There are 3 different flavors of CCMS and we wish to correct our own slight bit of misinformation. Without a CCMS V1 one would never have a CCMS V2. We’re not sure about V1 and we invite you to educate us about V1. However the remaining information was gained by checking the other sources of public information, such as the office of the chief information officer, the AOC’s own records and the BSA report.

CCMS V2 – The first deployed phase product was scoped to include case management activities for traffic and criminal functions within the courts. The development of the V2 product was challenged and was ultimately only implemented in Fresno County in July of 2006.

CCMS V3 – The second deployed phase product was scoped to include case management activities for civil, probate, small claims, and mental health functions within the courts. Pieces of the the V3 product is currently deployed in six counties, including: Los Angeles; Orange; Sacramento; San Diego; San Joaquin; and Ventura.

CCMS V4 – The third yet to be deployed vaporware product was scoped to include:

  • All of the functionality of V2 and V3;
  • Family law and juvenile justice case management;
  • A public/partner portal;
  • A set of standard justice partner data exchanges (purported to be 121 that have been shifted out of the project itself so that the AOC could call the application complete) Now they are classified as external connectors that are no longer a part of the CCMS V4 project
  • Integration with document management systems; (The AOC and the Santa Clara Courts who do not use CCMS are working on the integration of a DMS system for CCMS. Do you see anything wrong with this picture?) DMS is now classified as an external connector and is no longer a part of the CCMS V4 project yet CCMS can’t function without some form of a document management system.
  • Court interpreter scheduling;
  • Court reporter scheduling, and;
  • E-Filing (The e-filing capability and the partner portal capability are the reasons that lawyers groups back CCMS, the Judicial Council and the AOC and why no one bats an eye at the thought of Joe Dunn coughing up 4.5 million in state bar funds for CCMS ) Our position has been consistent insofar as we look at the legal profession gaining the most benefits out of CCMS.
  • Much like a Realtor must have a state license and be a subscriber to a local multiple listing service to sell or list houses and that MLS fees pay for the realtors’ MLS systems, we believe ALL of the states lawyers should pay for CCMS via the State Bar if they want it so bad.
  • If we’ve gotten anything incorrect here, please contact us at https://forms.hush.com/judicialcouncilwatcher with those corrections so we can make them. 

If you want to clean up CCMS’s costs and development, tell a hundred thousand plus lawyers that they’re responsible for paying for it via user fees. It would still be cheaper to the average attorney than messengers running to the courthouse on their behalf or standing in line themselves.

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Please note that we’ve edited a number of media links to point directly towards Judicial Council and AOC news stories and will continue to develop our Judicial Council and AOC in the news page.

Thanks for your continued support,

JCW