ACJ New AOC Appointed director opposed fiscal reform

Posted on July 30, 2012


July 31, 2012

Dear Members and Others,
Last Friday afternoon, following the public meeting, the Judicial Council met in executive session and selected retired Shasta County Superior Court Judge Steven Jahr as the AOC’s next Executive Director.
If the announcement caught you off guard, you were not alone. The appointment of a new Executive Director was not listed on the Council’s public agenda and the unanimous vote occurred behind closed doors. Following this email is an article by Daily Journal reporter Paul Jones which details last Friday’s late-breaking news.
In addition, we attach for your review two letters penned by the incoming Executive Director. These letters reveal that in the recent past he has gone on record opposing judicial branch budget reforms and, more disturbingly, questioning the motives of those of us who have sounded the alarm at wasteful spending by the AOC and advocated for greater transparency and accountability.
We hope that these letters merely reflect a “snapshot in time” of the new Director’s views, and we encourage you to read them yourselves.   We hope they are not reflective of how he will respond to those of us who offer a differing point of view. A few quotes illustrate our concerns.
From a five-page letter dated March 2, 2011, addressed ‘Dear Colleagues” and stamped “RECEIVED” March 8, 2011, by AOC General Counsel Mary Roberts:
“Although retired from the bench, I am aware that some judges have asserted that the Judicial Council failed to do what the Legislature intended because the council did not adopt a “trial courts bill of rights.” As one (of many) who was actively involved in implementing the legislative intent as expressed in the statutes enacted under AB 233, I can say with confidence that those assertions miss the point.” (Pages 4 and 5.)
“Each of us is entitled to our own opinion, and I have no quarrel with those whose opinions may differ from mine. But we are not entitled to our own facts. And it is simply inaccurate to blame the Judicial Council for failing to do what it was not charged with doing, especially in light of the fact–not opinion–that the council did as it was charged.” (Page 5.)
From a two page letter dated December 9, 2011, and addressed “Dear Chief Justice and Members of the Judicial Council”:
“Now these judges have, according to their letter dated December 5, 2011, with enclosures, abandoned those allegations, redrafted their proposed statutory language, the May 8, 2011 version of which I have now read, and supported this effort with allegations of waste and inefficiency on the part of the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts in the management of trial court operations funding.” (Page 1.)
“As for the present allegations offered by these judges, I will be the first to say I have no first hand information to offer. My involvement in budgeting matters took place in the 1990’s, and a decade has gone by since I served on the Judicial Council myself. But I do know that as one of her first initiatives, our Chief Justice established a Strategic Evaluation Committee to assess the operations of the AOC, top to bottom, which will necessarily examine the assertions raised by these judges. Such an inventory and assessment is wholesome and it is due. Furthermore, the Chief Justice appointed retired Justice Arthur Scotland to chair that effort. The conclusions and recommendations reached by a committee so guided will be unflinching and they will be thorough. It is by those means that the present allegations can be addressed in a way that most benefits the public we serve.” (Page 2.)
We can only hope that Judge Jahr has now carefully read the SEC report as well as the report on CCMS which was done by the respected State Auditor. Any objective reader of these two reports would necessarily conclude that the “assertions” and “allegations” made by “these judges” have been verified and confirmed.
As always, we will endeavor to keep you updated as events warrant.
Directors, Alliance of California Judges

JCW: We omitted an included article that indicated special permi$$ion had to be obtained to post it on a website. (even though we can apparently use it in a collaborative effort) And they wonder why attorneys were stoned in public around the time of the founding of this great nation…..