Watching the parade of supporters testify before the legislative committee this morning made me think maybe the AOC should add a Theatrical Division to its roster because boy did they put on a show this morning. When the panel of judges representing the AOC entered the room and took their seats in the front of the hearing room, I swear I could hear the strains of the Imperial March. And then when it was time for the AOC to put on its show, it was full steam ahead with all engines roaring. The judicial officers spent hours explaining how necessary the AOC is to the implementation of justice in the state and rattled off statistics and numbers supporting not only the AOC’s growth but also the necessity of spending the funds that it has spent.
The AOC must have sent out quite the email to get the number of judges that it did to testify about the miracles that the AOC has performed in their individual counties. Judicial officer after judicial officer got up and sang the praises of all the wonderful programs that the AOC had brought into fruition. I believe one judge even said something akin to “We depend on the AOC” ignoring the fact that maybe why her court needed the AOC so much is because the AOC has made counties dependent on it.
The one thing about the hearing that I found rather depressing was the number of judges who got up before the committee and testified in support of the AOC and all that they claim the AOC does for the judicial system. That these judges were strong supporters of the AOC wasn’t what depressed me. What depressed me was that almost all of the judges who spoke in support of the AOC failed to acknowledge any support of courtroom staff. The very people who help to run this court. Would it have been so hard for any of these judges to acknowledge that the AOC’s recent actions have had a great negative effect on court staff, not to mention on the public? But no. It was, “We need CCMS this” and “We couldn’t have done this without the AOC that.”
But the committee members didn’t hear from just AOC supporters. There were just as many speakers who spoke out against the AOC and in particular its lack of transparency and its priority of spending monies on software over people. It was very heartening during the hearing to watch the group of people who spoke out against the AOC made up of clerks and representatives of other court staff including courtroom deputies and court reporters. These people are the real face of the court and the people that the public encounter when they enter courthouses up and down this state. And for those judges who did speak out against the AOC, in particular Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne Gilliard comes to mind, I know it must have been greatly appreciated by court staff to hear them speak up.
As I listened to the impassioned pleas of the many AOC supporters I suddenly realized that the AOC would not have gone through the trouble of calling in every chit it possibly had to get people to speak on its behalf if they weren’t concerned. And that’s where AOC critics can claim victory. As Chairman De La Torre said at the beginning of the proceedings, the hearing on the AOC had attracted more attention than any other since the committee first started holding hearings. Increased attention on the AOC is a good thing that will force the AOC to live up to its claim of “serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians.” I hope that this is not going to be the last hearing on the AOC and if the AOC thinks critics are going to go away after one hearing, they’re sorely mistaken.
So, what did you AOC Watcher readers think of the hearing? Share your thoughts in the comments section.