ACJ – Jury still out on the issue of transparency

Posted on August 8, 2012

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August 8, 2012
 
Dear Members and Others,

Tomorrow, August 9th, the Judicial Council’s  Executive and Planning Committee will meet to discuss the public comments received concerning the SEC report and how best to proceed on the recommendations. They will present their recommendations to the Judicial Council at the business meeting on August 30-31.

The E&P Committee routinely meets behind closed doors and rarely, if ever, permits the public to witness their actions, though the Rules of Court permit the chair of the committee to open the meetings to the public.

This committee is viewed as the most powerful internal Council committee. The committee has control over Council agendas, acts for the Council between Council meetings, and is responsible for oversight of court facilities, budgets, long term planning and Judicial Council governance policies, among other things.

In fact, the entire Judicial Council Governance Policy, an appendix to Title 10 of the California Rules of Court, was adopted several years ago by the E&P Committee by way of a telephonic conference call. Thereafter, based on that document, a wholesale revision of the Title 10 Rules of Court was accomplished by E and P by putting the Rules on the consent agenda. This maneuvering allowed the entire heart of branch governance to be drastically amended without any public discussion whatsoever. These actions stand as one of the best examples of the need for real reform and real transparency.

Yesterday, the Alliance sent a request to the Chairman of the E&P Committee, Justice Douglas Miller, to open up the August 9th meeting to public scrutiny. We include that request for your information.

This morning, the Alliance received the following response from Justice Miller:

“Thanks for your request. I will discuss it with the committee members.”

The Alliance believes that any discussion regarding whether or not a meeting will be open to the public should itself be conducted in public. One of the best ways to ensure accountability is through a process whereby the judges of this state, the public, and members of the press are able to see for themselves which members embrace transparency and which members favor the closed door status quo.

Those judges who publicly posted their comments on a website for the world to see should now be able to scrutinize in the light of day how the Council’s most powerful committee will proceed on implementing–or not–the SEC recommendations.

As always, we will keep you updated as events occur.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges