Chief appoints familiar faces to trial court budget working group

Posted on October 16, 2012

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It should come as no surprise that when a working group is formed (the Judicial Council and the AOC’s favorite sleight-of-hand gesture at addressing anything) that it would be the loyal soldiers of the Chief Justice that would be getting the nod to speak with one voice. Most of these loyalists have been in the judicial branch for less than 10 years themselves so they have an ideal point of reference to make recommendations and discuss the impact on a law that is 15 years old.

While we feel that such a group has no relevance at the discussion table because they lack a frame of reference, apparently our Chief Justice feels differently.

Of course, items that probably won’t come up for discussion are things like committing 1.8 billion dollars to one courthouse over the course of 35 years while two dozen other courthouses and well over 200 courtrooms are mothballed across the state.

Maybe they will not bring up how hundred thousand dollar embezzlements in the AOC go unprosecuted and how that might affect judicial branch efficiencies by sending a clear, unambiguous message that anything goes with the publics money.

Or maybe they will not bring up how centralization has brought us $2,000.00 light bulbs, $409.00 clock batteries and unlicensed contractors maintaining every courthouse from the Oregon border to the Mexican border. But they weren’t really unlicensed. A sham lawsuit wherein if they lose, they are innocent of the crime and if they win, they are guilty of committing numerous crimes proved that!

Or maybe they will not discuss how firing whistleblowers has brought them greater efficiencies because in getting rid of them, it gets rid of anyone pointing to the unresolved problems.

Or maybe they will not discuss the $ 26 million dollar assigned judges program that is paying Jack Halpin to sit as a twice retired,  20 year appointee to the Shasta bench while hundreds of other judges go without courtrooms and court staff across the state.

Then again, maybe they will not bring up how spending over a half a billion dollars on vaporware called CCMS under this ideally centralized management model where everyone speaks with one voice and indicated “they could not think of a better investment in the judicial branch than CCMS” led to greater courthouse efficiencies. Sacramento and San Diego are living proof examples of those greater efficiencies bought by CCMS.  But V4 works! Really, it does!

We don’t know the full charge of this committee because it’s opaque to everyone but it does seem like the Guv is fulfilling a promise to form the committee to look at things. As long as his eyes are wide open to the train wreck that has been defined as centralization under undemocratic authoritative rule by a body that has usurped that authority, we trust that any report will be as meaningful as any other issued on the judicial branch and represent yet another couple hundred pages of dust in the wind. Hopefully, the legislature takes up trial court funding, bypassing the reckless judicial council that has better things to do than deliver justice.

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October 16, 2012Dear Members and Others,

We include an article by reporter Cheryl Miller concerning the creation by the Governor of a working group which will evaluate the 15-year-old State Trial Court Funding Act.

The Chief Justice has selected the following justices, judges and others to represent the judicial branch on this committee: Justice Harry Hull, Los Angeles attorney Angela Davis, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O’Malley, Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg and Santa Clara Superior Court Executive Officer David Yamasaki. You should note that all of these appointees are also current hand-selected members of the Judicial Council.

Since the demise of the AOC E-News we believe it is important to keep you apprised of current events affecting the judicial branch. Please feel free to forward this along to your colleagues.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges

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The Recorder
10/15/2012Committee to Put Trial Court Funding Act Under Microscope

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has named several council members to look at how the shift to state funding 15 years ago has affected the system.

Cheryl Miller

2012-10-15 04:47:19 PM

SACRAMENTO — Following through on a pledge made in his May budget proposal, Governor Jerry Brown has joined Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in creating a 10-member committee charged with evaluating the state’s progress in complying with the landmark Trial Court Funding Act.

The panel, chaired by Justice Harry Hull Jr. of the Third District Court of Appeal and former Assemblyman Phillip Isenberg, has just six months to prepare a report analyzing what’s happened in the 15 years since lawmakers shifted primary court funding responsibility from counties to the state.

The committee’s specific charge may best be described as opaque. A one-page sheet distributed by the Administrative Office of the Courts suggests four areas the Trial Court Funding Workgroup “may” address: trial court workload metrics, staffing, efficiencies “and other relevant data”; courts’ cost drivers; methods to “enhance savings”; and funding transparency. The group’s findings are expected to go to the Judicial Council and the governor.

At the annual meetings of the State Bar and the California Judges Association in Monterey over the weekend, Cantil-Sakauye loosely compared the newly formed workgroup to the Strategic Evaluation Committee, the body whose harsh audit of the AOC resulted in dozens of proposals to downsize and reorganize the judiciary’s bureaucratic arm.

“You know what I expect? I expect to see data,” Cantil-Sakauye said after a speech that included the first public details of the group’s formation. “Data will give us an idea of how we should move forward intelligently. … This is an assessment. And we hope that the trial courts will contribute greatly toward helping us get the data that we need to make our case for additional funding, or restoration of funding.”

Cantil-Sakauye made six appointments to the group, all of them Judicial Council members: Hull; Los Angeles Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Davis; L.A. County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias; Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O’Malley; Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg; and Santa Clara County Superior Court Executive Officer David Yamasaki.

Brown appointed Isenberg, for whom the 1997 Trial Court Funding Act is named. He also selected Diane Cummins, his special adviser and finance veteran; Martin Hoshino, undersecretary for administration and offender services at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; and Eraina Ortega, a lobbyist for the California State Association of Counties who once worked at the AOC’s Office of Governmental Affairs.

A Brown spokesman confirmed the names of the governor’s appointments but declined to comment further.

“I really don’t know where this is going to go,” Hull said Monday of the working group and its future report. “It’s a process of discovery.”

The justice said he and Isenberg recently met for the first time with staff to lay early ground work for the committee, which has not yet released a schedule of meetings. Isenberg was unavailable to comment on the working group Monday, his office said.

The 58-page Trial Court Funding Act may be best known for giving the state control of the judiciary’s purse strings, a move that was designed to equalize and stabilize court funding, which could vary wildly from county to county. But in the 15 years since the law was enacted, judges, lawmakers and interest groups have seized on its many different provisions to bolster their points of view.

Supporters of a strong, centralized judiciary cite the law when calling for uniform standards among the courts. Those who want more decision making power in the hands of individual trial courts point to a section that notes “a strong preference to the need for local flexibility in the management of court financial affairs.”

“We trust that this group will consider all points of view and that it will address the need to re-establish a balance between the goals of the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act for statewide efficiency and also local control and flexibility,” Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe, a director of the Alliance of California Judges, said in an email. “Any discussion of branch funding should not take place in a vacuum, but rather should be tied to a discussion of branch governance, and the need for a full and fair hearing on Judicial Council democratization.”

The group’s charge to consider so-called workload metrics is also sure to make some judges antsy. Past attempts to quantitatively measure judges’ productivity have been criticized as unfair and inaccurate. Cantil-Sakauye said she understands those concerns but added that judges shouldn’t worry.

“I can assure you that this committee is not out to show anyone up or in some way embarrass the branch,” the chief justice said.

 

From our own Courtflea:

Oh my gawd. And just what the hell is this committee supposed to acomplish? Increased funding for the judicial branch? yeah, right. If the committee digs any deeper than the top soil, an honest review of the implementation of the Act would be embarrassing to the AOC/JC and be an argument for de-centralization of power. Anything good that came from this Act occurred at the local level by utlizing the smarts of court staff and judges who figured out ways to get things done and make it work. Of course, the AOC knew this legislation was coming, but did they anticipate how it would impact the courts and create plans of action on how to deal with the changes? Nooooooo, of course not! They just sat around with their thumbs up their arses and then later took credit for the positive changes and methods developed by the trial courts, and used that as an excuse for why central control is needed. i.e. to help/provide services to the courts. Bullshit. that is what makes the creation of this commmittee even a bigger joke. Believe me, the local trial courts were doing their own payroll and A/R A/P well before CARS or Phoniex or whatever they call the central payroll and accounting system now, was around. And that is a piece of crap. most locally developed or procured systems were better, less cumbersome, required fewer staff, and cheaper. And that is just one example.

My prediction here is that this “committee” of kool-aid drinkers and lickspittles will “find” that individual trial courts need to give up any remaining local control to strengthen and make centralized control work. It is the “clowns” and “know nothing judges” that are keeping the AOC and the JC and therefore the branch, from success.

Lando, I wonder why they keep hiring lawyers too. I mean anything that smells like potenital litigation gets farmed out to private law firms. so what gives? I wonder what exactly do these people do?

PS and who died and made Yamasaki CEO god of the month?