Editorial: Courts need to re-think workarounds for the civil bar

Posted on August 29, 2012

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One of the most striking examples of how to attract  the attention of 190,000 attorneys in this leadership crisis was how the Ministry of Truth artfully employed bar associations and the state bar to make this fight all about the Judicial Council and the AOC getting more budget. Of course, we have to believe that based on the propaganda spewed forth by the death star that 87% of any budgetary increases would go to the trial courts. Early on, we saw what appeared to be a cooperative effort between those that were looking at possible years between paychecks step up and defend the judicial branch literally at the expense of the trial courts.

They did this because by and large, attorneys don’t fully understand the arguments being made. They know of cuts to the judicial system and cuts to their local courts but what they don’t know is what we know here and what legislators in Sacramento know. As the saying goes, all politics is local and it was the local bars backed by many of their largest law firms that stepped forward and suggested higher fees and absorbing more costs to keep their avenue to their next pay check this year free and clear. Oh, it doesn’t matter that in some counties that the little guy can’t have his case heard in small claims. Another way to enrich the sharks is to force small claims cases into the hands of lawyers by closing small claims courts so it’s all good.

What we feel is missing here is that this is supposed to be a justice system that is accessible to all. While there are those who have argued the issues of accessibility, none have been pro-pers who are going about living life. Who is making the accessibility argument are lawyers. Lawyers that want to ensure that their avenue to a pay check through their local court system isn’t interrupted by the shennagins in Sacramento, completely missing the boat on where the money goes after the legislature votes and the governor signs.

Not one dime goes directly to the courts dear lawyers. It all goes to the Judicial Council’s administrative office, the AOC. From there, it is parsed out on a “me first, you next” basis with the brown-nosing courts getting a fast pass to the front of the line.

This explains why the AOC continues to get around a hiring freeze by continuing to hire while courts across the state are forced to curtail services. For some time now, these same lawyers groups have managed to work with the local courts to stave off this paycheck intervention by managing to preserve their own access to justice through work-arounds. These work-arounds have assisted the local bar in ensuring that all politics stays local and that the death star remains immune from 190,000 people that simply don’t know about the self-enrichment at the top of the food chain – but might act in unison to preserve justice if they did.

So what is our solution? Get the attention of lawyers by bringing a halt to work-arounds and point towards the AOC in San Francisco, their largesse and their lack of any meaningful cuts or any meaningful reforms that might free-up some money to support their goals.

One theme that was astonishing in E&P suggestions is the suggested reclassification and downsizing of the AOC was that it would cost more money. Really? It costs money to lay off more managers? I don’t think so. What more money is for is to add another layer or two of management in anticipation of future growth, a clearly stated goal of both the judicial council and the AOC.

 

Meanwhile plans are quietly being laid to reclassify AOC employees alright, as employees of the appellate and supreme courts.