Judicial Wars: Judges upset with comment by Justice George

Justice George suggests judges who opposed court closures are only concerned about their own interests.  In other news, pot calls kettle black.

Remember how I posted a couple weeks ago about the analogy one reporter came up with about the AOC?  Let me summarize it for you.  Basically the AOC would be like the Death Star.  The group of judges who are leading a campaign against the AOC to open itself up to more public scrutiny would be like the Rebel Alliance.  Which begs the question of who would Darth Vader be in this saga happening very, very now, in a galaxy near, near here?  Well, here’s one candidate for you.  Justice Ronald  George.  Although to be honest with you reader AOC Watcher likes to refer to Justice George as King George.  Especially when some years ago he made a comment that any questioning of the AOC and how it does its business would be taken as a declaration of war on the AOC.  Excuse me??  Questioning a government agency funded by taxpayer dollars is a declaration of war?  Okay, then.

Seems ol’ King George is ready to rumble now that he’s thrown down the gauntlet metaphorically speaking by suggesting those judges who have voiced opposition to court closures by the AOC as a solution to slashed budgets.  He made the comment in a report he gave to the Judicial Council that had been webcast.

“Interestingly enough, much of the most vocal opposition to court closures in the name of access to justice has come from persons who, in the past, have shown little or no interest in our efforts to maintain and increase access to justice.  So one might question whether these concerns are totally genuine or reflect instead, perhaps, some personal concern about the implications, financial and otherwise, to oneself from closures and from the pressure to engage in voluntary furloughs for one day a month.”

Amy Yarbrough of the Daily Journal wrote about how that comment has rankled a few judges who are now demanding an apology for his comments.

George’s comments struck a nerve, particularly in Sacramento County Superior Court, where judges have been quite vocal, even signing a petition against the closures.  Judge Loren McMaster drafted a letter to Sacramento Presiding Judge James Mize, asking him to press George for an apology.  “It’s not a fair comment and it’s not accurate,” McMaster said of George’s statements. He pointed out that most judges he’s heard from plan to volunteer their salaries in solidarity with court employees who must take a pay cut as a result of the closures.

Judge Maryanne Gilliard, also on the Sacramento bench, said it is “disappointing” that a member of the judiciary would question the motives and integrity of judges who have resisted the closures.  “I am hopeful that upon reflection he will conclude that his remarks were intemperate and offer an appropriate apology,” she said.

Mize said he wants to speak with George to clarify what he meant by his comments before he does anything.  “I would never attribute bad motives to the chief justice on anything,” he said. “I really think we all have to stop and take time to listen and have, I would say, a judicious response.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t be holding my breath for an apology to happen any time soon.

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7 responses to “Judicial Wars: Judges upset with comment by Justice George

  1. cgoldste@cox.net

    great blog….truth to power. I would love to talk to you about the blog. email if you can.

  2. I’m not good with this fancy legal stuff, but how can a state office like the AOC shut itself down on a Wednesday when Gov Code sec 11020 says state offices need to be open? I mean, sure, they don’t have to answer the phones cause it’s an emergency and all (11022), but don’t the doors have to be open?

  3. Okay, so I’ll try to answer your question as I too am not that good with all that legal stuff, but I’ll start with posting the language of GC sec 11020.

    “Each state agency shall establish a procedure pursuant to which incoming telephone calls on any public line shall be answered within 10 rings during regular business hours as set forth in Section 11020, except where emergency or illness require adjustments to normal staffing levels. This requirement shall be met in every office where staff is available, unless compliance would require overtime or compensating time off.”

    I believe the key words there are “regular business hours.” The legislature passed language in a trailer bill that gave the authority to the Judicial Council to close the courts which the JC exercised.

    That third Wednesday that the court is closed will basically be treated as a holiday. Courts aren’t open on holidays so that takes care of the “normal business hours” provision.

  4. Great blog. There is apparently a statewide meeting of presiding judges and CEOs at the AOC in SFO tomorrow. Bill Vickery and Ron Overholt are the kings of spin. Count on them using the SMSC situation to their advantage. They will argue this is just further proof that greater AOC oversight is needed at the local level.

    • Well you were right there. BV came out swinging. For over an hour he defended himself and everything the AOC has been doing. Dead silence followed his presentation. He just doesn’t get it. He will if the pressure keeps up. But he will fight back and fight back hard. Watch the Chief go on the offensive now and ty to minimize the opposition as just greedy judges. Also watch him try to get CJA to ride to his rescue (and that of the AOC) and say that CJA is the real voice of the judiciary along with the Judicial Council. I hope CJA can stand the pressure from them.

  5. Appreciate your thoughtful answer. Here I was thinking that the State’s holidays were all listed in Gov Code 6700, but, clearly, I was mistaken.

    Still, I can’t help think that someone at the AOC has completely lost the plot. Their mission seems to be to “improve access to a fair and impartial judicial system.” I’d think the best way to “improve access” would be to, er, provide “access” by keeping the doors open M-F.

    Again, thanks for the response. Keep up the good work.

  6. @neilalice I have the language of the trailer bill that gives the authority to the JC for closing shop. I will try to upload it later for readers to download.

    As for the AOC and how they’ve “lost the plot,” buddy that is their MO as far as I’m concerned. Frankly I don’t even think they know what show they’re on let alone what the plot should be.

    @crtwatchr I think Vickery and Overholt are sadly mistaken if they think they can spin the SMCSC fiasco to their advantage. There appears to be a more concerted effort by AOC critics to attack their bumbling ineptitude. Perhaps it’s because the economy is in the crapper and perhaps even because of the court closures.

    All I know is that the Sacramento and San Diego judges leading the fight against the AOC need all the support they can get. Since the court consolidation judges have been reduced to the roll of eunuchs and it’s about time they grew back what was taken away from them and start asking for accountability and transparency.