Will the real judicial council board of directors please stand up?

Posted on July 16, 2014


“This retirement at once changes everything, and changes nothing.”

Administrative Director of the AOC Steven Jahr


Doublespeak. We’re accustomed to hearing it from national leadership but from the ostensible leadership of a whole branch of state government, especially the judicial branch is …. uncommon.

What bothers us the most about this statement is that nothing but additional costs is what we can expect. A transition team will be formed from within the AOC to ensure that items are transitioned over to “judicial council”. New management positions will be created. And an 800K compensation and workload study will be nearly meaningless as the organization morphs while under study.

But what really bothers us the most is a declaration by the council is that they are the de facto directors of the AOC and that it is not a separate organization but the administrative arm of the judicial council, yet what is known as the AOC maintains division directors heading every division.

Years ago we criticized this arrangement because directors are generally independent of management. Yet in this organization, directors were the actual management with zero independence. Indeed, in theory, judicial council members should have the appropriate independence to oversee their management.

Yet what we continue to see is a whole slate of division directors serving as a board of directors and continuing to run the whole show, spoon-feeding council members with reams of materials that are measured by the thump they make when dropped on a table. So much information in such a short amount of time that even the most judicious cannot review it all before the start of any meeting. So what we see as the public turns out to be choreographed votes without dissent because much like congress rarely reads a bill before voting on it, council members don’t have a chance to review the objects measured by the thump they make. Worse, all members are appointed based primarily on their ability to rubber stamp without dissent all that their administrative staff puts before them.

And the AOC’s many directors become judicial council directors because what changes everything also changes nothing.

What it does do is wrap what is known as the AOC under the black robes of silence and the virtually absolute immunity of the judicial council, making them more untouchable than ever before.

In our opinion, that’s no way to run a railroad.