Death Star Communications

Posted on May 15, 2012




From: Patel, Jody
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2012 2:32 PM
Subject: Executive Office Update


I want to provide an update on judicial branch and AOC-related activities for next week, and as we approach the end of the fiscal year.

Revised State Budget

The May revision to the Governor’s proposed state budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 will be released on Monday. Based on a significant gap identified between revenues and expenditures, we are expecting that the proposal will contain additional cuts for all areas of government.

The judicial branch budget represents just 2.4 percent of the overall state budget, at $3.1 billion for the current 2011–2012 fiscal year. Over the past four fiscal years, the branch has experienced a cumulative ongoing reduction of almost 24 percent (a total of $653 million: $606 million in reductions to trial courts and $47 million in reductions to the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and the Judicial Council/AOC). Up and down the state, courtrooms have closed, courthouse hours have been limited, programs and services have been eliminated or severely curtailed, and staff have been laid off.

We anticipate that the “May Revise” will bring even greater challenges for the courts and for the AOC. Information on the Governor’s revised budget proposal as it affects the judicial branch will be shared with you on Monday.

AOC Restructuring

On Wednesday, the AOC Executive Team will meet on our organizational restructuring efforts and will need to consider the specific impact of any further proposed reductions. On Thursday, the Judicial Council will meet at the Northern/Central Regional Office in Sacramento to review and discuss the budget proposal. At that meeting, I will provide a high-level briefing to the council on recent organizational changes that have been made at the AOC and how we will need to fast track other changes, including some level of layoffs, before the new fiscal year begins on July 1. We will share specific information on layoff procedures in advance of any action.

I know that the uncertainty about what comes next on the budget and on restructuring is hard to deal with on a daily basis. The decisions and changes that are being made are based on comprehensive reviews and discussions of the past few months on AOC budget, structure, operations, and staffing. Realignments that make sense from a business and operations perspective in a stable environment take on an added complexity against a backdrop of unprecedented budget reductions.

Strategic Evaluation Committee

I appreciate that many of you want to understand how the recommendations of the Strategic Evaluation Committee (SEC) will be factored into the realignment process. For the past 12 months, this independent committee of retired and sitting justices and judges, together with advisory members who are retired executive branch administrators, have been reviewing the structure and operations of the AOC. As designated staff to the committee, I have acted as a liaison to gather and compile information from our divisions and provide it to the committee members. No one from the AOC has attended SEC meetings or participated in the committee’s discussions. Directors were interviewed by the committee, as were other judges, justices, court administrators, and employees. At the end of January, then-SEC chair Justice Art Scotland (Ret.) signed on to serve as a member of the legal team representing the leadership of the Legislature in a lawsuit against the State Controller. To avoid any possible appearance of conflict of interest, Justice Scotland resigned from the SEC. The Chief Justice then appointed Assistant Presiding Judge Charles D. Wachob of the Superior Court of Placer County and Presiding Judge Brian L. McCabe of the Superior Court of Merced County as SEC co-chairs. The committee initially anticipated delivering its final report to the Chief Justice in April, however, the Chief Justice was advised that the report and recommendations would not be final until June. No draft of the report is being made available to the Judicial Council or the AOC. Our own internal restructuring efforts will continue. Once the SEC’s report is provided to the Chief Justice and the council, the recommendations will be considered.

Right now, the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and leadership from the courts and the AOC are working together to address the current budget challenges. What is truly remarkable is that, under the most difficult of circumstances, our judicial branch—the courts and the AOC—remain dedicated to the work that we do to maintain our justice system and serve the public. I am greatly encouraged by your commitment and appreciate everything that you are doing to continue to get the job done.


Jody Patel
Interim Administrative Director of the Courts
Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
415-865-4275. FAX 415-865-4244,

“Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians”


From: Lawrence, Olivia [] On Behalf Of Soderlund, Curt
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 1:50 PM
Subject: Phoenix Program Management Reorganization

To Court Executive Officers and Fiscal Contacts of the Superior Courts:

Trial Court Administrative Services’ Linda Sebastiani has announced her retirement. Linda has been an integral part of the Phoenix Program and has managed the Shared Services Center since October 2006. Under her leadership, the Shared Services Center has seen its volumes expand in its various service areas to include the issuance of over 276,000 jury checks, 252,000 vendor payments, 244,000 operations and Trust checks, and the processing of 3,000 electronic funds transfers totaling $3 billion, 13,260 purchase orders, and over 87,000 court payroll checks annually. Linda’s 38 years of state service have been an invaluable asset to the program and we would like to thank her for her commitment to customer service excellence and her dedication to the courts. Her last day will be May 25th.

Doug Kauffroath will assume management of the Shared Services Center upon Linda’s retirement. Doug brings not only years of experience to his new role, but an intimate knowledge of the Phoenix Program and the courts’ inner workings, ensuring a seamless transition. When combined, his administrative skills and hands-on expertise with the Phoenix System and SAP software will provide him the ability to effectively manage the Shared Services Center, as well as further enhance their partnership with the Phoenix Program’s Center of Excellence and the courts. With this reorganization, Bobby Brow will assume management of the Phoenix Program’s Center of Excellence for both Phoenix HR/Payroll Project Support and Finance Production Support units.

We bid farewell to Linda and welcome Doug and Bobby to their new and expanded roles. Doug can be reached at 916-263-2872 or via e-mail at and Bobby can be reached at 916-643-8020 or

Thank you,

Curt Soderlund
Interim Chief Deputy Director
Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
916.263.5512, Fax 415.865.4244,

“Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians”