Dan Walters: The Alliance of California Judges was right

Posted on January 12, 2015

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Today, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters, dean of the state’s political reporters, released a brief video commentary on the State Auditor’s review of Judicial Council/AOC spending. He lays out in direct language that what the Alliance has been saying for years is correct: The bureaucracy is bloated, its employees are overpaid, and the Judicial Council has failed to do its job. For those of you with problematic browsers, a transcript of his remarks follows.

As the Governor releases his budget and members of the Legislature begin the task of making decisions on how judicial dollars should be spent, our message is clear: Without significant and systemic reform, the AOC will continue to siphon off the dollars we desperately need to keep our local courts running. At a minimum, and until the statutory or constitutional changes necessary for real reform can be enacted, we call on our sister branches of government to bypass the Judicial Council and its bloated bureaucracy and directly appropriate branch dollars to the local courts. That is one way in which we can be assured that those dollars are being prudently spent.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges
Transcription of Dan Walters video, 1/9/15

For years, a group called the Alliance of California Judges was a kind of a “judicial rebel” against the state bureaucracy in San Francisco—the state judicial bureaucracy—accusing that bureaucracy of being bloated and overpaid and maladroit, and just not able to do a good job of managing the courts.  And the rebels were dismissed, and they were belittled, and they were just dished all the way around.

But the State Auditor this week released a report that basically confirmed that everything that group had been saying about the state judicial bureaucracy is absolutely true.

It is bloated.  It is overpaid.  It has been mismanaged at things.  And, the state Judicial Council, which is supposed to oversee that bureaucracy, has failed to do its job.

Now, nobody knows what’s going to happen now, whether the bureaucracy will reform itself, and whether more money will flow into the trial courts and less be spent on the bureaucracy over in San Francisco.  We don’t know whether the Governor or the Legislature will step in—there is this thing called judicial independence and separation of powers.  The status quo doesn’t work.

It’s wrong.

The Alliance is right.

Things are messed up.

Things ought to change.