Eliminating the name has only exacerbated the problem

Posted on March 11, 2015


Late last year after the judicial council had received a customary draft copy of the state auditors report, the judicial council took it upon themselves to eliminate the name “Administrative Office of the Courts”.

To those who work in the AOC, the change was all but totally meaningless because the name they recognized was “Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts” They were always the administrative offices of the Judicial Council and that’s the part that has never changed.

Today, there will be a hearing regarding the audit up in Sacramento and it will be revealing to demonstrate who is really in charge by who shows up to answer for the myriad of management failures. One would believe that if the Judicial Council was really in charge, their fearless leader TCS would be the one to own up to these management failures and appear before the committee for today’s grilling.

Instead, by design, we expect to see Martin Hoshino indicating that he has only been on the job for a few months and touting his rather anemic reforms and indicating that he will need more time to fully address the State Auditors report. He alone will demonstrate to legislators who is really in charge and who is really in charge will not be the judicial council, the chair of the judicial council or any of its highest ranking members that falsely represented that they are in charge.

Much like a long string of other reports, we expect this one to die the death of a thousand cuts by putting the audit on a slow track to nowhere while the chief justice touts how deliberative process is the hallmark of the judiciary and that the council will, similar to the myriad of reports before this one, need eighteen months to study the conclusions and another eighteen to twenty four months to implement the AOC’s re-interpretation of the conclusions of the report.

In the end, we expect to be three years away from seeing anything but a token effort at addressing the pension issues, the parking perks and the leased vehicle perks. Re-interpretation of the conclusions will cause them to declare that many of the most pressing issues have already been addressed.

One item that we would recommend: Annual audits of all judicial council operations to include court construction unless and until the legislature changes the way judicial council members are selected to sit on the council and chair various committees. Without democracy, without an audit of how the committees themselves are chaired and co-chaired by insider loyalists appointed solely by the chief justice, there will be little debate and even less change and five years from now we will still be blogging for change.

Personally, there is nothing better that we would prefer to do than declare mission accomplished and move on with our lives here at JCW knowing the branch is far better off than where we started. But in many senses, the pervasive issues, as demonstrated by the state auditors report are worse than ever and aren’t going to be getting any better anytime soon without some radical surgery that most of us know as democracy.

Food for thought: The constitution defines the makeup of the judicial council itself. What it does not do is define the makeup of the executive and planning committee or any other committee that feeds the judicial council agenda. Comprehensive legislation in this arena could and likely would result in comprehensive branch reform, especially of the makeup of all committee chairs and co-chairs was made by a democratic vote instead of a chief justice appointment.

There would be precious little incentive to be a team george brown-noser.