Update on October 28th AOC Hearing in Sacramento

I’m going to leave this posting up that was originally a sticky giving details about the meeting heard on the 28th.  People wanted to be able to read the comments that had been posted.

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30 responses to “Update on October 28th AOC Hearing in Sacramento

  1. The Whole (Judicial) World is watching. Lets make California proud of their Legislature at a time when it is under great criticism. The AOC spin has got to stop sometime. Let’s begin that process now to return our court system to its rightful place in the nation as the preminent judicial system and show that even the AOC is not immne to appropriate review and correction. This committee has the chance to do just that. The employees and judges are not the only ones who care. The people of California care.

  2. Isn’t it incredible that the people’s access to justice has to be cut off because our administration has decided the computer system, building and refurbishing courthouses, and conferences with facilitators is more important than justice?

  3. Although I do not disagree with some of the comments on this website, many items are being miscommunicated. I worst thing is that these difficult times are bringing out the worst in people including judges. That is a shame. This website should be focused on being the judicial branch watcher. Are you saying the courts are run perfectly? Come on!! We all know there are many courts where the judges are covering for their incompetent colleagues instead of turning them over to CJP. How many times are policies implemented by the PJ/Executive Committee just to have a small of group of judges say “I am an independently elected official” and am not following policy?? How many times have courts across the state entered into contracts without going through an appropriate bidding process. And lets also talk about all of the obscene COLAs and equity adjustments all the courts have provided to their staff EVEN this year with a fiscal crisis. Some of the courts with the greatest financial need have given those raises. Yes, there are courts that are having difficult financial issues, but there are at least 50% of the courts who are not in crisis mode because they have significant reserves. These reserves by the way are “pegged” for a particular expense but we all know that some of the courts are lying about that. There is over $550 million in court reserves that are taboo for the AOC to inquire about without the courts getting paranoid. We can pick apart any organization if we really wanted to so to be fair lets open this up to the entire branch and let the court employees also share with all of us what happens in their own organization. Or is there no more real objectivity and honesty left out there?

    • A judge observer

      This is in response to the post by “no objectivity left.”

      While all can agree there may be issues regarding budget decision at local trial courts I don’t understand most of your points. Ialso truly question some of your observations.

      What is being miscommunicated here about the AOC and its spending decisions? Most all of the posts on this blog contain a wealth of fact-checkable information about the spending decisions of the AOC and its affect on the county Trial Courts. If there are particular items or observations which are incorrect please share them with us.

      No one on this website has ever said the trial courts run perfectly. However this site is called AOCwatcher, not Judicialwatcher. A Google search will show there are plenty of sites devoted to criticism of judges and courts. Such is the life of most judicial officers who devote themselves to service in the public light.

      More importantly, unlike the insulated leaders of the AOC , judges are also exposed to removal from office by the CJP (they are the only elected officials in the state who can be removed by a commission) and those who put them in office – the citizens of the county who elect them. Every judge can be reassigned by his/her presiding judge if they fail to fulfill the needs of the court. Every decision made in court is subject to review by justices on the Court of Appeal. Except in some large counties, each judge is known in their communities and questioned at service clubs, restaurants, school functions and bar meetings about how responsibly they operate their court. He/she is not just some faceless bureaucrat. In short, every judge is evaluated everyday in what they do and how they run their court.

      Judges elect their Presiding Judge. Executive Officers are also elected or hired by the judges of the court. As such, the P.J. and Exec. work for the judges, not vice versa. (A common misconception in San Francisco seems to be that somehow judges are “under” the Director of the AOC. Nothing is further from the truth. He is a staff member and should be responsive to the elected judges). Judges are responsible to the Constitution and the Law, not policy. A judge violates his/her oath of office if to follow a policy is contrary to their interpretation of the law. I do not know what “policies implemented by the PJ/Executive Officer” (advisory) committees you think are not followed by judges, but a judge can be disciplined and removed from office by the CJP for failure to follow a Rule of Court. A P.J. can reassign any judicial officer if that judicial officer offends some “policy.” In short, there are consequences for a judge failing to follow appropriate policy.

      If you know of incompetent judges, you and every citizen can report them to the CJP. I personally know of none. I will guarantee you that there are many lawyers willing to run an incompetent judge out of office. (And our position is the only elected office requiring an advanced degree and 10 years of experience.) I do know of judges who have talents in fields and subject areas where they are not assigned, but that is the difficulty Presiding Judges have assigning judges and not having an unlimited pool of talent from which to choose. I also know of judges who lacked the temperament for the job, and to a person they were reported to the CJP or counseled as required by our canons of ethics.

      It is disturbing that you seem to feel that being “… an independently elected official” is something to be taken so lightly and a bit derisively. It is a view I have heard expressed by some within the AOC, however. But they forget judges are indeed not employees of the AOC. The fact is that Judges are elected and each should fiercely fight any attempt to take from them their independence in making decisions and administering their county trial courts in ways they feel are most beneficial to their constituents — the citizens of their county. This is why many have been so vocal in opposing the mandatory court closures.

      That many courts have been able to build up reserves to get them through this difficult time is something to be applauded, not chided. This crises will be a multi-year problem, not just a one-time issue. Assuming your $550m figure is correct, spread over 4 years that is only $2.3m a year for each of the 58 county trial courts. And we know some of the largest of those courts (serving the majority of the citizens) do not have near such amounts available.

      Those with adequate reserves are the very courts who should not have to close, but who this very day sit idle because of a decision promoted by the AOC as effective cost savings. Further, a check of past history will show attempts by the AOC to “sweep” trial court reserves back to their own coffers to be spent on CCMS and other pet projects, so it is understandable that courts are careful to “peg” those monies themselves for their own use. They have been taught by the masters of “pegging”, the AOC.

      Don’t know about COLA’s. I do know that all the courts are honoring their contracts with their represented employee groups. (That is something courts do. Follow the law and uphold binding contracts.) This is something else that doesn’t affect the AOC. No union representation for their employees. No bargaining. No contracts. Some of these contracts do call for increases on a yearly basis. They are negotiated, and this past year almost all courts have reopened negotiations to see if agreement can be reached to forgo contract increases rather than layoff or attrit employees. Some employee groups have agreed, others have held the courts to their legally binding contracts.

      Finally, the budget decisions in a local court are made by the judges who are responsible to their electorate, the executive officers who are responsible to the judges and with open and aggressive local bargaining by the represented employee groups who demand much more transparency in trial court budgets than those courts seem to get from the AOC. Every judge in the court has the ability to have input into budget decisions, individually or through their elected Executive Committee representatives. Unless you are anointed by the Chair of the Judicial Council, no judge has meaningful input on any of the budget decisions made in San Francisco.

      None of this local give and take is available in the oversight of the AOC leadership. Although they run an organization which ostensibly is to support all the courts, and they hold the purse and make recommendations on all money given to the branch by the state to be distributed to the courts, they are not hired by the courts and they are not directly accountable to them, their leadership or their elected judges. They are beholden only to a council made up of persons appointed by a single individual who is not elected to govern any trial court in the state. A council which is so tightly controlled a review of the minutes for the past 5 years shows little dissent on any issue.

      The AOC has great influence over that council as the primary body to report on finances and make policy recommendations. As such, they are allowed to make major decisions which directly impact each of the 58 county trial courts without input or consideration of views by those whose very existence they financially govern. Oh yes, there are advisory committees of judges and Executive Officers, but they also are only populated by persons hand picked and chosen by the Chair of the Council – a person many fear can have an impact on any future appointment to a higher court. Executive Officer representatives are likewise afraid of the power of the Director of the AOC to prevent their future employment in any of the courts in this state, or the “punishment” of having even more funds to his/her county court operation curtailed should they be displeased.

      This is all why many are hopeful the hearing next week will shed light on the problems in the management of this branch of government, including the spending and power of the AOC. Of all the branches ours is the one which should uphold the pillars of democracy, free speech, and openness. Unfortunately, it governs without democracy, chills speech with the mantra “speak with one voice,” and hides the workings of its staff . It has allowed to grow within it one of the most fiscally powerful bureaucracies, making decisions over public money in a less than transparent manner. Many believe they do so in a manner which will shock and appall those who grant the funds for the operation of the trial courts – the legislature and the Governor.

  4. No Real Objectivity –

    I appreciate your comments. You’re correct. No organization or court is perfectly managed or administered. Judges, court administrators and employees all make mistakes.

    However, I belive the comments expressed here reflect a frustration with the AOC as a result of its refusal to accept any objective criticism or listen to opposing points of view.

    The AOC and the trial courts are full of very bright and dedicated employees who are have basically given up in terms of participating in the policy making process. When policy decisions are questioned, the response of AOC leadership has been, “It is JC policy and it is going to happen.” Trial courts have asked the AOC to revisit the CCMS/Phoenix strategy for years. These attempts have gone nowhere. Anyone who questioned these policies was labled as being uninformed, paranoid, or putting the interests of their individual courts over the “good of the branch”. The AOC’s message was that the branch needed to speak with “one voice”. In theory this is probably an effective approach to advocacy. Unfortunately, the “one voice” belonged to the AOC. Because there is no benefit to questioning AOC policy, most courts have adopted an attitude of resignation and try to avoid “rocking the boat”.

    The AOC is now going to have to justify some very questionable policy and fiscal decisions related to these projects before a legislative oversight committee. This may have been avoided if the AOC leadership created an organizational environment where transparency and open discussion of important policy issues were encouraged.

    The AOC/JC can’t satisfy all of its critics. Note everyone is going to agree with all of its decisions. However, the AOC can be willing to listen to all of its stakeholders and recognize that some criticsism is valid and may justify a change in policy.

  5. Legislative Committee

    I say focus on the AOC only for now. One bad apple at a time needs to be plucked from the bucket of good apples.

    From what I have personally observed in the courts, the cases you bring up are far and few between. Where has the judicial review board been doing while all of this has been going on? Most importantly where is your objectivity?

  6. I agree that the entire judiciary should be transparent and that there are plenty of mistakes and imperfections to go around at every level. As we all know, this government system like all others is made up and run by humans. Infallible humans . Humans who can sometimes forget that when employed by the public they are accountable to the public. Hence the term public servant. First and foremost to the public because it is tax dollars that pay for the entire system. Because people are infallible and can sometimes fall prey to egos and lose sight of good stewardship; we have a system in American government to ward against nepotism, corruption, grafting and ensuring the public’s interests are paramount and the actions of those entrusted with running our government are accountable. That system is made up of several components – open meetings, democratic decision-making by individuals who are held to certain laws and standards, access to public records, civil service systems, impartial reviewers of one branch of government by another. These are the underpinnings of public accountability. Transparency, while not a new idea, can be revolutionary. Public oversight is a core tenant of our American system of government. Sadly, this seems to be lacking in the California judiciary. If there is nothing to hide at any level then accountability and change should not be a problem to anyone or any sector of the judiciary. This whole debate really should not about blame. The blame and accusations are the symptoms of a system gone awry. History has shown us that absent the components listed above that bad things will happen. The California judiciary is not the first government system to be fraught with governance and accountability problems. It is just one of the last modern systems to be run without appropriate oversight. The judiciary needs to move forward and be held to the highest standards of accountability. I hope we can collectively get there.

  7. CCMS at 1.5 billion is going to cost about $1,000,000.00 per California Judge.

    As they say on my relatives Oklahoma cattle ranch: “If you are riding a dead horse get off.”

  8. Many in the courts will be watching this hearing with great interest. There are a myriad of questions that need to be asked and answered, but as to CCMS specifically, these might include, but would certainly not be limited to:

    1. When were the first business plan and budget plan for the development of a statewide case management system created? What was the scope of the project? What subsequent budget modifications were made? What factors have been responsible for cost increases? Which of these factors were not foreseen? What mitigation strategies have you used in response to these cost increases?

    2. On what date did the Judicial Council authorize the transition from a three-court pilot project to a project that would create a statewide case management system with significant interoperability with other government agencies? Who does the Judicial Council hold accountable for the progress of case management system development?

    3. In February of 2004, the Legislative Analyst’s Office made several recommendations regarding “Information Technology at the Judicial Council”, concluding that the “project development and oversight process used for CCMS and CARS (1) lacks as assessment of the statewide costs and benefits of the projects and (2) does not sufficiently mitigate risks common to large IT projects.” What measures did you take in response to the LAO’s analysis?

    4. Pursuant to recent legislative direction to slow down the development of a statewide CMS so that money could be used to support trial court operations: Where is the revised development plan to accomplish this slowdown? What forms is the slowdown taking?

    5. Where are the business and financial analyses that lead you to decide that the benefits of continuing with case-management-related technology projects outweigh the benefits of diverting portions of planned technology funding toward court operations to prevent layoffs court closures and reductions in service?
    6. How much have other states spent on comparable systems?
    7. Who will own the system? Will the vendors own all or portions of the system and merely grant licenses to the AOC?
    8. What actions were taken in response to written objections made by one or more judges on the CCMS oversight committee to certain aspects of the program, including the choice of vendors?
    9. How much of the CCMS system is actually needed by the courts of this state for their day to day business, and how many of its functions are really designed to help the AOC micromanage and oversee the actions of judges, or to otherwise become involved in non-essential matters, both in and out of the branch?

    10. Why, in the roughly 8 years since the inception of the CCMS project, do the minutes of the public portions of the judicial council meetings (roughly 54 in all during that period) contain no indication whatsoever that any council member ever questioned the soaring costs of the program?

  9. Anyone know if the hearings will be broadcast?

  10. If they broadcast the hearings, it would be on http://www.calchannel.com. Although I’m not able to find it on the schedule. I guess we’ll find out on the 28th.

  11. Am hoping the Elkins Task Force, will get Serious about using GPS monitoring with the all important Victim Notification to prevent family murders.

    http://www.youtube.com/gpsmonitoring

  12. People, do you really think anything will come of this meeting? What will happen is this: nothing. The AOC will present its “explanations”. The legislature may try to be tough but overall will probably lightly slap the hand of the AOC and then dish out millions/billions more to the inept program to continue down the road they are already on. CCMS isn’t going anywhere and will probably cost billions more in continued outsourcing to fix. Get used to it. You are all waiting for the ax to drop, but its just not going to happen. There’s too much politics involved and too many people who have to “save face” for anything of any real value to happen. The word term accountability doesn’t exist at the AOC because no one is ever held to it.

  13. I am afraid I am going to have to agree with Chelsey.

    It was told by several staff from HR, that a quarterly meeting was held last week sometime- Where the Management of the HR division sat intimdatingly at one table- (included Ms. Fiorintini- Supervisor, NOT MANAGER (the minimalist from a previous post) while their very obedient and frightened staff, madatorily sat at the other tables. Even the new Manager of the Reginonal Analyst (who by the way is the one hired after the freeze and who was paid relocation fees) felt safe enough at the captains table to chime in to add some rude remarks.

    Mr. Fuentes’ gofer Mr. Couch got up and apparently assured staff that the committee meeting being held next week is basically a lot of nonsense and that there is no truth to anything being said on THE WATCHER! He also stated that what is being said on THE WATCHER is ridiculous. He told staff nervously that in the beggining most of the posts were about HR and old outdated information with no truth behind them. He then said he was happy that the poster’s were now attacking each other instead of HR and said something to the effect ” If we wait long enough for anything, it too shall pass”.

    He also said that apparently there was a reporter from the Sacramento Bee who visited the Executive Office recently and that the accusations reported here on THE WATCHER were unfounded. Hence the reason there was apparently no article ran.

    So I guess the host of THE Watcher, all the past and present employees, Judges, Trial Court staff, and any other’s who have posted in behalf of the chaos in HR…… You must all be wrong, for everything printed here on THE WATCHER will be presented as lies, and the exectutive staff and Managment of HR have nothing to worry about or hide. You all might as well not turn out on the 28th, because everything bad that has happened since Mr. Fuentes took his thrown, has been just your imagination.

    I guess there’s nothing to see here folks, move along.

  14. The committee has learned that the AOC plans to present a parade of stars, rather than any real subject matter experts. It’s unlikely these individuals will be be asked questions regarding specific HR allegations, apart from explaining the basis for rapid growth of employees at the AOC.

    As for the minimalist, her hire and promotion has set the precedent for either a lawsuit, union representation, or a mass exodus of employees. The committee may elect to call heads of divisions in for its next hearing to explain certain complaints that have been identified here (i.e., the systemic spending problems, lack of oversight and employee abuse that won’t be addressed by the parade of stars).

    I would not despair, eventually the coverups and mistakes made by HR and other divisons will all be exposed.

    If you have a valid complaint regarding your employment at the AOC and you need to get outside assistance, contact a lawyer.

  15. 1. Which division (oh the irony) was led by a man who sexually harassed women? Hint: despite the charges, he still had the gall to force the agency to give him a retirement party.

    2. Which division hired a man to be a supervisor who sexually harassed two men? Hint: they both left the agency but he is still on the payroll. Bienvenidos amigos!

    3. Which division is lead by someone who falls asleep during meetings? Hint: his assistant director is a nightmare and she can’t retain employees. Fun fact: they can’t stand each other.

    4. Which division had a manager who was fired because she kept two sets of financial books and mislead everyone?

    Fun fact: most of what is posted here on AOC Watcher is strangely accurate. Most judicial branch employees are wired to tell the truth — until this site emerged, they never adequate opportunity to do so.

  16. An absent media

    I would agree with my 3 predecessors Chelsea, Davenport and Sacto Cherry.

    The AOC offers the revolving door of lifetime employment to those in the legislative branch that carry their torch and term out. Maybe if that special interest revolving door was closed for two years after a legislator leaves office it might have a different outcome.

    The AOC has a sophisticated lobbying effort between their office of communications and the office of governmental affairs and has assembled the who’s who parade of stars so that no hard questions will be asked of them or they “have no knowledge of this or that but we’ll get back to you” and they never will.

    The first agenda item should be to schedule subsequent hearings for individual directors to appear before the legislative committee to answer a few questions before they move on to the star studded gala of ignorance and denial.

    Only by starting off with this one agenda item will the people of AOC Watcher, trial court judges, employees and AOC employees have even a fleeting hope at any meaningful reform.

    Absent in all of this is the media, equally as complicit in their pandering so that they might preserve what little access they have to the judicial branch.

    Where’s Bruce Brugmann and his San Francisco Bay Guardian?

    Where are Matier & Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle?

    The Sacramento Bee doesn’t run an article because they see that the Daily Journal has been denied further access for running an article critical of the judicial branch. Is it because its a non-story or because they don’t wish to lose access?

    The only chance at real reform starts and ends with this one legislative committee and the AOC is cognizantly aware of that.

    “Please don’t air our dirty laundry to our superstar politicians as they are detached from the day to day operations”

    That’s the main reason to send them. That detachment from the operations of the Judicial Branch is common knowledge in the branch. They aren’t just pleading ignorance. They go through a painstaking effort to remain ignorant.

    The AOC’s sophisticated lobbying machine is diligently working the committee. Let us all hope that our legislators and staffers represent the people of the State of California and can see through this charade. Let’s also hope they have no interest in that revolving door of lifetime employment.

  17. Please review how the AOC has utterly failed in regard to Chief Justice Ronald George’s, Elkins Task Force.

    Problems and solutions at http://www.Elkinstaskforce.org

    Recommendations saving the state millions in the form of police man hours and criminal prosecutions continue to be ignored, although and additionally, the solution would save lives.

    Specifically, the solution to family court related murders is family court judges ordering GPS monitoring for restraining orders – that include a Victim Notification feature. That is a device that alerts the victim if the person order to stay away, comes within a mile of the victim. (I’ve always said if you give women a head start, they’re happy to save their own life.) This will ease the burden of police man hours, and reduce criminal prosecutions. See interview, below.
    http://www.youtube.com/gpsmonitoring

    Also, there’s a couple of websites.
    http://www.gpsrestrainingordersolutions.com/Family_Court.html
    and
    http://www.gpsmonitoring.com/family-courts.html

    GPS also works to end perjury in the area of false allegations.

    Media is partly to blame for the sad state of murders not appropriately covered. Florida is first in the nation for family, murder-suicide. But California is a close second. Please see http://www.familylawcourts.com/kids.html
    or
    http://www.familylawcourts.com/domestic.html

    Consider this opinion piece after Kristin Longo was murdered by her estranged husband, Utica Police Investigator, Joseph, less than four hours after their hearing…and reporters essentially committed journalistic malpractice.

    There is a terrific opportunity to remedy this save lives and the state millions in police man hours.

    Is the AOC interested? A loud “No.” Could someone ask San Francisco’s, Diane Nunn why? I would – if only she would return my calls.

    But, I digress. The “watchdog media” is more like a lap dog.

    The good news…..at least they printed my opinion piece.

    http://www.uticaod.com/guest/x593080228/Guest-view-GPS-good-tool-in-dealing-with-domestic-issues

    The AOC seems more self-serving than serving the needs of the public. Not a single one of the cost-saving measures suggested here, have been incorporated, in recommendations for the Elkins Task Force recommendations located here,
    http://www.elkinstaskforce.org/Solutions.html

    and worse, the Elkins Task Force has put in place, not a single measure to ensure oversight for Supervised Visitation monitors or minor’s counsel.

    Thank you, and if need be, am happy to answer any questions at info (@) familylawcourts.com

    Most sincerely,

    Bonnie Russell

    http://www.Familylawcourts.com

  18. The majority of the HR staff are breathlessly awaiting for all of the HR Division management staff, including the minimalist to pass.

    When will they pass out the doors of the AOC?

  19. Well Davenport that is very interesting!

    There was a meeting of Finance supervisors (staff is to be kept in the dark as much as possible, there hasn’t been a quarterly meeting in ages) and there Bobby, the supervisor of no one, proceeded to explain how the Watcher was full of lies, wildly inaccurate and that the participants were turning on each other!

    It sounds almost word for word. Is the 5th floor worried that staff won’t be cowed anymore? Are they sending their winged monkeys out to intimidate and fool us with tricks?

    Beware you little weasels, just because you suck up to management they will turn on you just as soon as they think it will save their own skin,

    The higher you go at the AOC the narrower your loyalties become.

  20. Dusty Rhodes: Wonder if “Bobby” is unaware that some of his immediate cohorts refer to the AOC’s private little slush fund (otherwise known as The Ralph Shapiro Administration of Justice Fund) as the “booze fund”? Keep up the good work, Bobby, and maybe you’ll get invited to one of those $100 per person JC fiestas at the Academy of Science or even grab an Asst. Directorship. Pre-requisite skills for the latter: must be a talented self-promoter, must possess coat tailing skills, must know how to say “yes Sir/Mam!” with enthusiasm. Other desirables: completion of Broadcasting 101, the confident Anchorman.

  21. Attention AOC Coffee Breakers: If you’re posting to the Watcher from our favorite coffee house on Van Ness, you may want to find a new hot spot, or at the very least, keep an eye out for snoopers. I hear the spies have moved out of 455 Golden Gate. Time to purchase that new smart phone?

    • No. The only significant AOC employees who frequent the coffee shop are M.D. and M.M.
      Else no one from the AOC goes there with their computer.

  22. Did you ever wonder why folks stick around at the AOC? Well, one reason is that their health care benefits vest after 10 years–that’s right, only 10 years!!

  23. Dusty Rhodes makes a point mentioning the risks of trusting in narrow AOC loyalties.

    “The higher you go at the AOC the narrower your loyalties become.”

    It’s sad but AOC rank and file staffers don’t know who we can trust these days. Just look what happened to AOC Whistleblowers in HR and EOP. One of them, thanks to management betrayal, almost took the fall for another employee’s dishonesty and the other persona muy ingenua played step n’fetch to a certain runs with the pack Assistant Director up till spilling the beans about JC expenses. Looks like it’s not so smart to put your trust in the AOC’s top dogs. When they get embarrassed and feel their position threatened, they will turn on you and take a bite

  24. The strategy must be one of “plausible ignorance”. The hearing will be a waste of time unless the members of the committee are willing to challenge the AOC panel. It will be difficult as each member of the AOC panel is polished, assertive and brings with them a “presence”, legislators are not used to dealing with. It would be easy for the committee to be overly deferential to such an esteemed group. All of the participants, with the exception of Justice Chin, have been on the JC. Justice Huffman has apparently received a lifetime appointment as he has been on the council from the beginning of the CCMS project. Justice Chin is the chair of CTAC.

    I didn’t see Sheila Calabro, a Regional Administrative Director and the Project Manager, on the panel. I assume she knows more than anyone else on the AOC Executive team about the project. Her absence is conspicuous.

    Presumably, the panel members know about the project from the JC perspective. If so, I hope the committee focuses in on that subject area. I hope the committee asks questions such as:

    1. When did the JC decide to go forward with the CCMS project? What information did you rely on? Cost-benefit analysis? Comparison of the costs and benefits of seeking bids for an off the shelf product vs. development of a proprietory product?

    2. How much were you were told it would cost? How much were you were told the CCMS project would save?

    3. When did you first become aware that the project would costs more than $1.o billion? What was your reaction? Did you question this estimate in terms of resouces to fund the project? Did you ever ask if it might be appropriate to re-evaluate the AOC’s technology plan given the costs to develop CCMS? If not, why not? As a constitutionally elected public official, did you ever question whether spending $1.0 billion on a case management system was the most prudent use of taxpayer money?

    4. Were you aware the AOC’s 2008 “Funding Strategy” relied on obtaining $360 million in additional funding from the legislature? When were you made aware of this? Do you think it was prudent to go forward with a project that depended on the California legislature allocating almost $400 million in general fund money at a time when the state was headed toward a budget crisis?

    5. Were you aware the AOC Funding Strategy required a contribution of $250 from trial court reserves? Were you aware that at the time the strategy was formulated, trial courts had designated less than $100 million of their reserve balances for technology projects? Do you think it was reasonable or prudent for the AOC to proceed with the CCMS project knowing the courts did not have the funds in reserve necessary to deploy the system?

    6. Did you ever ask the AOC what other state court systems have spent on their statewide case management systems? Do you think knowing the relative costs of these other systems would be important or relevant to the funding decisions you were asked to make?

    7. When did the AOC first make you aware of the 2004 LAO report? Do you think the criticism of the AOC’s management of the project was valid? Did you ever ask the AOC why it chose to ignore the LAO’s recommendations?

    8. Were you aware the 4 or 5 lead courts have spent significant amounts of money on the design of the system? When were you made aware of this fact and who told you?

    9. Do you think it would be unreasonable to expect that a CMS that the AOC has spent almost $400 million to design and develop would work in courts of all sizes with minimal modifications? Do you know if CCMS will be able to do that? Do you think it is reasonable to pay a vendor hundreds of millions of dollars to design a system which they never would have completed unless courts volunteered staff, at costs of millions of dollars to the courts, to explain the business needs of the courts to the vendor?

    10. Since there are 58 counties of varying size in the state, do you think it was reasonable for the CCMS Steering Committee responsible for the design and development of the product to include only representatives from large courts for the majority of the time it has been in existence? Do you think input from small to mid-size courts in terms of the design of the system would have been important from the very beginning of the project? Do you know when the small to mid size courts were first given the opportunity to provide input to the project?

    11. Do you consider the CCMS project a success to date? If so, by what measure do you gauge success?

    I hope someone on the committee reads this and asks at least some of these questions.

  25. Patty Jane Smith

    For weeks and months, many of us have been reading this blog and all of the posts by various individuals.

    But here is the million dollar question: Will you be present tomorrow to testify?

    Moneywatcher poses some great questions, but who is asking the committee if they will ask those questions?

  26. Justice Incredulous

    Stating the obvious, but what do any of these individuals have to do with the day to day management of CCMS? These individuals are high-profile judges and an administrator of the courts. This is akin to choosing Sandra Day O’Connor to testify about the long-delayed cost overruns on the San Francisco Bay Bridge renovation. Who gives a rat’s ass about judicial prestige in the middle of a funding and management credibility crisis???

    With an equal mixture of ineptness and short-sightedness, non-leadership and irresponsible management is dragging down the agency.

  27. The argument that will likely be made is an argument for an independent judiciary. However, I would argue otherwise – for checks and balances from the other branches of government.

    I liked how an absent media put it.

    “That’s the main reason to send them. (They’re not involved in the day to day operations of the AOC) That detachment from the operations of the Judicial Branch is common knowledge in the branch. They aren’t just pleading ignorance. They go through a painstaking effort to remain ignorant.”