Commentary: Halpin, Dorner, Chiang, Court Reporting and more.

Posted on February 9, 2013

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It isn’t too often we get to write commentary on a myriad of people and news items, most that are related, some that aren’t.

First up is the AG’s office and the Jack Halpin case. The Attorney Generals’ office is seeking written opinions on the question Is the Honorable Jack Halpin (Retired Superior Court Judge) usurping the office of Superior Court Judge?” Our own opinion is well known. With over nineteen years of perpetual re-appointments to the Shasta bench without having ever stood for an election, Jack Halpin is indeed usurping the office of a Superior Court Judge and should be required to stand for an election before he serves even one day more as a judge. The AOC has aided and abetted this travesty by re-appointing him and the Shasta Superior Court has aided and abetted by requesting he be appointed….. for over 19 consecutive years. In our opinion, the entire assigned judges program, an otherwise worthy in intent program is at risk for being unfunded by the legislature should an army be set out to protect one of their own.

Second up is the Christopher Dorner manhunt going on in Southern California. From what we understand thus far is that Christopher Dorner, a terminated SoCal police officer is apparently on some twisted mission to clear his name by killing police officers and their families, has already killed three and injured two. This has every cop in Southern California on edge. Standing from the outside looking in, it appears that there must be some execute first, ask questions later orders in this manhunt. Christoper Dorner’s burned out hulk of his dark gray Nissan Titan was recovered at the base parking lot of  Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Big Bear Lake, California.

In Torrance, California some 113 miles away, cops were guarding a home in the neighborhood of a person named in Dorners online manifesto posted and since taken down on Facebook when a newspaper delivery driver and her daughter driving a blue Toyota Tacoma (which only resembles a Nissan Titan by virtue of them both being trucks) was open fired upon with more than 50 rounds by six police officers without either a warning or any probable cause to the delivery persons. Both occupants were shot. 25 minutes later across town in Redondo Beach, a black Honda Ridgeline, (which also only resembles a Nissan titan by virtue of them both being pickup trucks) was rammed by a police cruiser and again police open-fired on the vehicle without warning. In the second incident no one was hit by the barrage of bullets. While details are sketchy, it appears both of these police involved ‘mistaken identity’ shootings are alleged to have happened after Dorners truck was recovered 113 miles away.

Even though Dorners truck was recovered, SoCal bloggers are suggesting that for the meantime, don’t drive any dark colored 4 door truck less you be killed by police officers in another case of mistaken identity. More like – no effort whatsoever is being made to identify the occupants before police open-fired upon both vehicles which smells to the average citizen like police intend to execute Dorner instead of capture him.

While our sympathies go out to the SoCal police and their families, one of whom was killed by Dorner in Riverside and two injured, as well as the daughter of a police officer and her fiancee that was killed, our sympathies also go out to the three people shot at where no effort was made to identify them before police open-fired.  It is regrettable that we believe all eight officers involved in these shoot first, ask questions later shootings should be terminated and quickly, one, to set an example that it is not okay ever to fire upon any vehicle where the occupants are unknown to you and two before the SoCal police alienate the average joe citizen that drives a truck. In both cases, mistaken identity won’t be bought by any jury because it’s abundantly clear no effort was made to identify the occupants.

Third up is John Chiang whom the AOC could learn something from. Mr. Chiang canceled an 89.7 million dollar contract with SAP when a pilot batch of 1,300 checks was produced with hundreds of errors in them. The State Controllers office intends to pursue SAP for the 50 million dollars spent thus far. It appears that the government IT gravy train here in California is being brought to an abrupt halt. Now if we can only keep the Judicial Council’s incompetent technology committees away from case management our courts might have a fighting chance at affordable system delivery.

Fourth up is a bill by Donald Wagner (R) Irvine that would eliminate court reporting for most cases and replace court reporters with recording equipment. This bill thus far is so poorly conceived and poorly written that  without any studies being conducted, there is no technical standards defined in the quality of these recordings, leaving the door wide open for this object below to be the new official court reporter. Worse, it seems to define that the recording and not a written transcript shall be considered on appeal. We have some recommendations. First, before considering electronic court reporting, the legislature (and not the AOC) should commission a study that might lead to recording standards before any legislation regarding recording is to be considered. Second, calculate the extra costs the state will likely incur via electronic recording before any legislation is considered. Most of our legislators were once practicing attorneys. As such, they should know the importance of keeping a true and accurate record.  a correction to this statement has been issued in the comments section.

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This brings us to number 5The newly appointed Technology Planning Task Force that lacks a single certified technologist among them. A few of these members are also responsible for the debacle we call CCMS.  It is our opinion that this committee should be disbanded forthwith because it not only lacks certified technologists, it stands to lead us down the primrose path to yet another boondoggle because they lack the background. We would suggest that such an endeavor only be taken up by certified technology workers in the judicial branch as to avoid future boondoggles as this group knows about as much about technology that they do about putting a man on the moon. Frankly, it is an embarrassing insult to hold any of these people out as experts to all judicial branch employees and this mindset must change. Unfortunately, without democratization of the council, we don’t see any changes in the way the Judicial Council or the AOC does business.