The “Access to Justice” ploy and the SEC report

Posted on August 21, 2012

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I think it’s pretty obvious that from the onset of the public comment period of the SEC report and our own outing of the joint AOC / State Bar effort to attack the SEC report as a barrier to the access to justice would be the power play attempted by the council and their sycophants. We predicted that these access to justice cheerleaders would completely overlook thousands and thousands of court layoffs, the closing of hundreds of courtrooms and the closing of dozens of courthouses throughout the entire state and how that alone provides the most formidable of barriers to access to justice over any and all of the fine work of these sycophants and those that financially benefit from AOC largesse, most especially those who provide legal services to the poor and elderly.

Thus far, they’ve consistently proved us correct. While they expected to be able to conduct the equivalent of a “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone after the public comment period ran its course, nearly 500 judges statewide came forward and put the big kibosh on that with an exclamation point. After the comment period had closed, it didn’t help that one who was acutely aware of this strategy tossed his own hail mary pass into the end zone hitting the numbers , prompting the end of the summer of endless comments game as it became obvious that things were going to go straight down hill from there.

In a little more than a week, the judicial council will meet to consider the recommendations of both the SEC committee and the E&P committee. I think it’s fairly obvious to all that people are screaming for reforms in the rogue organization and are looking for nothing less than an extreme makeover. One set of recommendations they won’t be considering however is the report of Pegasus Global Holdings and the Office of Court Construction & Management. Skipped over by the SEC because they were apparently also waiting for the release of the Pegasus Global Holdings report, OCCM, the sole reason why we remain “California’s 6.5 billion dollar reality check” was barely commented upon in the SEC report.

Word from the inside is that they’re making like they’re re-arranging the deck chairs – but this time, they’re making no effort to re-arrange. They’re simply going to be releasing the Pegasus Global Holdings report with a parallel internal report to indicate the oft used “snapshot in time” argument and that they have cured all that ails OCCM.

Meanwhile it will be business as usual as another 1500 people statewide start losing their jobs at the beginning of September and scores of additional courtrooms close.

Then there is the Brown and Munger tax initiatives on the ballot. Before the revelations of hidden money, the polls in April were giving a slim 4% margin of approval on Brown’s tax plan while Munger’s proposal was trailing by 7 points. Unfortunately for California’s judicial branch, voters are a cynical bunch. They look towards Sacramento and all of those boards and commissions that exist where insiders land jobs that pay better than 125K per year. The revelations of hidden monies in special accounts is going to cause the electorate to tell Mr. Brown to start dig deeper and solve the fraud, waste, abuse and public corruption issues before attempting to reach into their pockets. They’re going to force him to find the hidden money and extract deep fiscal reforms before asking them to reach for their wallet.  Then there is the nasty little fact that initiatives that raise taxes always lose support as the election season heats up. Notice no recent polling released by the tax campaigns? Oh, they’re polling but if they started releasing the results, these initiatives would quicken in their down hill slide to defeat.

What does this mean for the California Court system and access to justice? If the year-end triggers take effect due to what we predict will be a failure of either initiative to pass muster with the voters, the courts will be forced to double down on their cuts. Rather than cut half the amount of people they had intended, all of that squeeze compressed into six months will cause them to double their projected employment cuts and another 1500 people statewide will be dismissed and an additional hundred or so courtrooms will close.

Meanwhile, the sycophants want to preserve their access to justice pet projects from decimation while our court system is decimated. They will argue that they need more budget to travel to the only remaining courts to represent the poor and the elderly at the expense of the local court and that only the AOC and CFCC are in a position to ensure the access to justice they seek to preserve because it is CFCC that spreads the money around to all of these legal aid non-profits.

You might falsely believe that this ploy is no longer in play. After all, the SEC committee and the E&P committee have endorsed change so the council should represent the will of the governed and endorse change.

Let us not forget who the insider sycophants are that are promoting this cause. One notable one can be found on the cover of the Action Plan for Justice special report. While the report has not been amended since 2007 to reflect the current fiscal realities, those sycophants promoting this cause want to play the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” game that permits them to completely ignore fiscal realities and the real barriers to access to justice. Like driving 150+ miles to take care of  traffic ticket in Fresno County. Like being told there is no such thing as small claims court in San Joaquin County. Like watching 4 courthouses close for every new courthouse built.

“To maintain the strength of our state and our nation, we must ensure that we have a court system with integrity – one that is fair and objective, that hears and resolves disputes in a timely fashion, that is open and truly accessible to all, and finally that is worthy of the respect and confidence of the public we strive to serve.”

Hon. Ronald M. George, Chief Justice,
California Supreme Court

The sycophants aren’t even listening to their demigod. Ten days from now, do you really expect them to listen to you?

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