More Construction Woes; Judge McMaster Editorial; ACJ News; Conference Signups

Posted on January 29, 2013


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January 28, 2012

Dear Members and Others,

By now, most of you should be aware that the Administrative Office of the Courts entered in to a “Private Public Partnership” for the building and maintenance of one courthouse in Long Beach that will cost roughly $61 million dollars a year for the next 35 years. Branch leaders have maintained that they expected the State’s General Fund to pick up that tab. Many, including the respected Legislative Analyst’s Office, cautioned against that premise. That is one of the reasons why little to no building or needed maintenance on existing courthouses will occur for the foreseeable future.

In yet another troubling development, San Diego’s  ABC affiliate has uncovered that the AOC entered in to a 10 year lease for the 4th District Court of Appeal in the upscale Symphony Towers that will cost the taxpayers more than $23 million dollars. At this price, the report notes,  this lease will cost more than 38% of the average leasing rates. Click here for the print and video link to that story.

Equally disturbing was the decision to bar the press from access to the 4th District’s offices.  In a prepared statement a “court spokesman” explained this decision by stating, “There’s nothing in it for the courts.”  We have been informed that at least one Justice objected to this decision.

The Alliance believes that, absent some very compelling reasons, the media and the public should be granted reasonable access to their courthouses, other than those which have been closed due to the misplaced priorities of branch leadership.

We attach also for your review an excellent opinion piece by retired Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster which responds to a recent Sacramento Bee editorial encouraging judges to “get on the same page” as our branch leaders. The Alliance agrees with Judge McMaster’s conclusion that a democratized Judicial Council is the only way for meaningful reform to occur. Click on this link for the article. 

We also wish to inform you that last Friday night retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge and former ACJ director Charles Horan was awarded one of the prestigious Persons of the Year awards given by The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise Legal Newspaper for his courage in taking on, among other issues, the wasteful CCMS debacle. Also honored at this year’s ceremony were Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Crispo and California State Bar President Patrick Kelly.

Last year our Chief Justice and former Governor George Deukmejian were the award recipients. At this year’s event Governor Deukmejian and his wife Gloria were in attendance, as well as a large number of judges and other dignitaries including Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Dave Wesley, incoming Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacy, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, and Los Angeles Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Finally, we are glad to report that prior to the Metropolitan News event, the ACJ hosted a reception to honor former Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon for his tireless efforts in getting significant portions of AB 1208 signed in to law via a trailer bill to last year’s budget. The Alliance presented Mr. Calderon with our Legislator of the Year award which he gracefully accepted.  Also honored by the Alliance were outgoing President Judge David Lampe and one of our founding Directors Judge Maryanne Gilliard.

The Alliance continues to move forward on a number of fronts. Of course we have our first educational conference the weekend of March 1st through the 3rd. If you have not yet signed up to attend you can do so by clicking on this link.  We invited the Chief Justice to attend and provide remarks but she politely declined. We are also continuing on with the success of last year’s trailer bill in contacting  legislators and building upon our continuing relationships with the Governor’s Office, the Speaker’s Office, the Senate Pro Tem’s Office as well as the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the State Auditor.

Thank you for your continued support.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges

Another View: ‘Dissidents’ in Court Debate are the Heroes (link)


Additional Information regarding San Diego’s 4th district division one and other courts of appeals from Michael Paul who worked on this and most other projects

The entire 4th district court of appeals, including Divisions One, Two and Three all occupy opulent office space with those in Riverside and Santa Ana being owned courthouses. The San Diego Opera towers lease has been in effect for years before it was renewed. When it was renewed, it added another floor and thousands of additional square feet to an already existing lease. To get an idea of the cards that the old state court system dealt themselves in court unification and construction funding, one only needs to tour the spare-no-expense appellate courts in the third, fourth and fifth district courts of appeals which were all at the front of the line. There is a very good reason these courts indicate that there is nothing in it for them to permit the press to tour these build outs and that reason is that it’s obvious that no expense was spared in these spaces. You’ll also find that most of the judicial branch ‘leadership’ were the self-dealing benefactors in these build outs and god forbid those facts come to light.

The court that is the most scandalous by a long shot is the Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento, where a whole floor in the U.S. Bank building was rented and built out as if the courts would occupy it forever in a brand new high-rise. (Press Release) What makes this build-out scandalous is the expense incurred for a temporary couple of year period while the original 3rd district court of appeals building (link) undergoes a complete remodeling by the Department of General Services.

The so-called swing space project could have been completed for less than half of what was spent given that they are only temporary offices that should be vacated this year. We used to joke around about some well-connected law firm already being pre-positioned to pick up that space for a song after the 3rd district leaves that building and that this build out was benefiting some later private entity to occupy it. All of that third district court of appeals opulence that will sooner or later end up in a private law firms hands was funded entirely by the California taxpayer. Sacramento actually outdid San Diego given that the space will only be occupied by the court for a few years but the general interior design architecture is about the same. 

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*Please note that the link to the conference sign-up has been corrected.