Request for Comments: New judicial branch contracting manual

Posted on October 4, 2013


It’s new and improved! While still in draft form because we know how the AOC likes to wait to the last minute to do anything they’re legally required to do we have a new version of the judicial branch contracting manual. It’s been revised and corrected and more closely represents what we would expect from a responsible government purchasing entity. There are just a few minor things that we take issue with that are not in the contracting manual and a few things that are missing.

Take for instance that the judicial branch is not allowed to do business with the top 500 tax scofflaws in the state and any contract entered into with any of the top 500 tax scofflaws is null and void. If you happen to be top tax scofflaw number 501, you my friend are in fat city. Your corporate ID could be suspended, revoked or considered abandoned because you did not pay your taxes but you can still conduct judicial branch business because you are not on a list of the top 500 tax scofflaws.

Feel free to go down to city hall, get a business license and represent to the AOC that you are a corporation. They won’t check and if you happen to be tax scofflaw number one on that list but happen to be a fake corporation that is actually a sole proprietor, you too can be in fat city and on the list of the AOC’s authorized vendors. The same thing applies to a “valid resale certificate”. All you have to show the AOC is that you have one, not that it is valid or that you actually pay the sales tax you collect from the AOC because they don’t check.

As we’ve indicated before, several hundred companies that don’t legally exist are currently on the semiannual report of judicial branch contracting submitted to the legislature. Virtually every one of these companies that does not legally exist is likely a tax scofflaw and according to the new and improved judicial branch contracting manual, it’s all good because spending public funds prudently isn’t even on the judicial councils radar.

If it was on their radar, there would be the same language that exists for the top 500 tax scofflaws which states any contract entered into with the top 500 is null and void.

Any contract entered into where corporate, llc or llp status is not valid or cannot be verified online should also be null and void. Furthermore, anyone in the judicial branch should have the right, much like a Japanese car assembly line, to reach up and pull the rope and bring business with an unauthorized or incorrectly authorized vendor to a screeching halt pending verification of the vendors credentials. On an auto assembly line this exists to fix a defect or address a safety issue and to ensure a quality product and every line worker knows that it is okay to pull the rope and stop the line to address a quality or safety issue. Today doing any such thing in the judicial branch will end up getting you fired.

The reason it will end up often getting you fired is because those making these selections, much like the former CEO John Montgomery in Marin, are in positions of power and want to ensure a steady stream of income to their conflict of interests.

If the AOC and Judicial Council were as transparent and as accountable to the taxpayers that they claim, these changes would and should be incorporated into judicial branch contracting manual \ law.

You might also note that unlike all other law that has a penalty associated for violating it, there are no penalties spelled out whatsoever for violating judicial branch contracting laws. Everyone gets a free pass to violate it because there are no defined penalties, making the so-called law guidelines that you can feel free to violate at will because there is no accountability for violating this law.

Judicial Branch Administration: Judicial Branch Contracting Manual(PDF, 1334 KB)
Item Number: SP13-08
Deadline for Comments: October 11, 2013 5:00 PM (Pacific)
Or, email:

At the Judicial Council’s business meeting on August 26, 2011, the council adopted the Judicial Branch Contracting Manual effective October 1, 2011, the operative date of substantive requirements of the California Judicial Branch Contract Law. The council adopted revisions to the manual in December 2011, April 2012, and August 2012. Staff has made additional proposed revisions to the manual, including those based on the initial audit report issued by the California State Auditor, and invites public comment regarding the proposed revisions.

 So be sure to comment and ask them how come this law comes without a shred of accountability.