Court Closures: It’s Always Dark… Before It Goes Pitch Black

Welcome to the new reality of working in superior courts in California courtesy of the AOC and the Judicial Council. If you thought things now are bad, oh boy. Just wait till next year. It’s going to be a doozy! At least that’s the theme of a presentation that LA County PJ Charles McCoy has been giving within the county. An article in the LA Times last week details all that LA County Superior Court employees have to look forward to.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Presiding Judge Charles “Tim” McCoy is warning of dire things to come should the state’s budget crunch continue to take a toll on the nation’s largest trial court system.

In recent weeks he has met with attorneys and court officials around the county, telling them the once-a-month closures and furloughs that began in July may be just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next four years, he says, as many as 1,800 jobs may be eliminated and up to 180 courtrooms may have to be permanently shuttered. The court’s capacity may be drastically reduced, tripling or quadrupling the pace of some cases moving through the system.

McCoy has given presentations to about a dozen law firms and several attorneys’ associations. He’s sounded the alarm to the district attorney and public defender. On Tuesday, he met with judges in the downtown civil courthouse to describe the bleak outlook.

What is Judge McCoy’s solution?  Going after AOC funds for building courthouses.  He argues that although he understands and supports building new courthouses and upgrading old ones, he believes those projects need to be sidelined to fund the more immediate needs of courts preventing the disaster that he foresees for his county.

Of course no article about potential financial disasters facing California courts is complete without the AOC sending out its salesperson spokesperson to counter any plan that deviates from the AOC’s master plan.

Many court officials around California are opposed because they believe their facilities are in absolute need of repair or replacement, said William C. Vickrey, administrative director of the California courts.

Vickrey said that though all options are on the table, “that is, in my opinion, not the first proposal we ought to be making.”

Vickrey noted that a majority of courthouses throughout the state have severe security problems, safety issues and seismic risk problems.

McCoy said that although he recognizes the need, he was being backed into a corner and given a “Hobson’s choice.”

If things get as bad as Judge McCoy thinks they’re going to get, especially if the AOC continues to drive the ship over the falls, expect things to get worse than the end of the world movie that people have been paying to see on movie screens.

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22 responses to “Court Closures: It’s Always Dark… Before It Goes Pitch Black

  1. Our “Judicial Leaders” are telling the public that the courts are closed only one day a month. I do not believe this is an accurate description of what is happening.

    I believe that in 2010 there are 10 holidays; 103 Saturdays and Sundays and 12 furlough days. This should leave 240 days in which the court offices are open to the public. The problem is that here in San Diego we have shortened the time court offices are open to the public by one hour a day or 240 hours a year. These 240 hours translate into about 30 days of court office closure per year. So, as far as the public is concerned, the court offices are closed about 42 days a year and not 12 as advertized.

    Another way to look at this might be: in San Diego court offices are open to the public from 9 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon, or 6.5 hours. 6.5 hours times 12 is 780 hours. 780 hours is what the public is being told the court offices are being closed per year. Since the court offices used to be open for an additional hour until recently the true picture, I believe, is to add 240 hours to the 780 hours for a total of 1020 hours per year court offices are closed to the public.

  2. Judge McCoy is absolutely correct. Next year will be a disaster in terms of the impact to trial courts’ budgets. Unfortunately, instead of coming up with a plan to address the problem, the AOC will instead lobby
    for restoration of this year’s funding cuts and threaten that they will have to implement more closure days, cut programs, etc. The governor’s staff and budget committee will nod in agreement until the AOC leaves the room and then proceed to whack away at the judicial branch budget. The AOC will be shocked because the governor and legislature told them 8 years ago that a statewide case management system was their very top priority (although the legislators cut the judicial branch budget every year and won’t provide $17 million to fund the conservatorship investigations mandated by the legislature 3 years ago) . The AOC will then employ the twisted logic that has gotten us into this mess and claim that since all of the money allocated to CCMS this year has been encumbered by “consulting” contracts for deployment, the only other option to address the funding shortfall will be another court closure day so that they can ensure access to justice.

    The reality is the AOC will have to get in line behind K-12 education, higher education, children’s health care, counties, etc. for funding when the state is again facing a $20 billion + deficit and the governor and legislature are out of gimmicks.
    I don’t think the legislature will be too sympathetic when the AOC/JC decided to spend $40 million plus of TCTF money on CCMS (more than $150 million in total) this year and implemented new fees in July which have apparently generated $53 million in LA county alone.
    If the AOC does not supplement trial court budgets with funds squirreled away for technology and construction, the effect on the trial courts will be catastrophic. Courts will close, civil cases will languish, self-help center hours will be reduced or eliminated, processing functions will back up and clerks will be laid off.
    It willl be interesting to see the reactions of the judges and administrators who testified on behalf of the AOC last month when they have to tell their employees there will be layoffs in their courts so that CCMS can be deployed in San Diego or Ventura or an architectual firm can be hired to design a new, larger courthouse in a county that does not have enough judges, staff or resources to provide core services as it is.

  3. Judge McCoy and Moneywatcher are spot on.

    In order to feed CCMS, new construction and the AOC the Courts will be closed more than once a month. The AOC will “sweep” all reserves from the local courts to fund all of the above.

    Local PJs must resist this and not be lickspittles to the Chief and the AOC

  4. justinianscode

    Since the Judicial Council recently swept the balance of the Trial Court Trust Fund on the AOC’s recommendation, it probably won’t be long before the AOC recommends sweeping the reserves from each local court’s account as well. Why the central bureaucracy in San Francisco thinks it knows how to use those local funds better than the local courts do is unfathomable.

    In any case, you can bet that once the AOC gets its hands on the money the local reserves will not be used to carry out local court operations in any way even close to the level of efficiency and value that the local Court Executive Officers would have used them.

    And for those tempted to equate the local courts who maintained reserves with those courts who have found themselves in such dire financial straits that they have already received Judicial Council bailouts, I would point out one major difference: if a local court has the ability to maintain prudent reserves, it has the ability to spend the money wisely.

    I would trust the local courts who have proven themselves good stewards by maintaining a prudent reserve over the central bureaucrats any day.

  5. Pattyjane Smith

    And be sure that the AOC has already been talking about the reserves the trial courts have in their posession. So don’t be shocked if you find out they already suggested to the Department of Finance and the Governor that sweeping up these funds would allow them to evenly reallocate the money back to the courts to offset budget cuts the legislature passes. They’ll sell it as a benefit to the courts and then we’ll all find in typical AOC leadership fashion that no one knows what happened to the money. Hmmmm….

  6. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Welcome one and all to the third Wednesday furlough!

    Just so you have some AOC background on this, about 8 months ago AOC’ers were told that a mandatory furlough was being contemplated while many of us were taking voluntary furloughs so our managers would get promotions.

    A short time later, AOC’ers were told that the L.A. Courts had already selected and ordered a furlough on the third Wednesday of each month and AOC leadership was a bit taken aback by this unilateral move. They didn’t order it.

    Next the AOC would also choose the third Wednesday of the month for the furlough day, indicating Wednesday was selected as to not interfere with the arraignment rights of jailed defendants. (If you recall, the judicial branch never has 3 day weekends and picking a day that the rest of state government is shut down would not be showing independence of the judiciary)

    This would later become a branchwide Judicial Council decision.

    Today about 20% of the employees of AOC will be working from home for free to keep up with their workloads. They set up out of office messages that indicate we’re closed due to statewide budget cuts and for a myriad of reasons this myopic decision will result in no savings at all that will ever be realized by this furlough.

    Learn the facts. Do the math. Make no assumptions and you’ll discover why.

    We’re closed today only in terms of providing access to justice.

    Happy Furlough Day!

  7. Judicial observer

    Where are the other judicial leaders voices on this solution? Where are the Presiding Judges of the Trial Courts and are they questioning the AOC over its new massive growth spurt in this fiscal area? Do they not want to save their court’s from further disaster? Why do they act as if the management staff at the AOC are somehow their superiors and leaders?

    Judge McCoy probably has analyzed the situation correctly. He is doing the reasonable and responsible thing and looking at the state’s fiscal disaster in multi-year stages. He concludes there will be a worsening of the fiscal problems on the local courts next year (the LAO’s report underscores this very view) and he is looking for solutions within our branch. In turn, it appears the leadership of the AOC will fight mightily to continue their growth while the trial court’s suffer.

    Maybe it is too early to know how this suggestion is viewed by other P.J.’s. They are the real leaders of the trial courts, not the AOC or the Judicial Council, but sadly I assume it will be greeted by silence. If so, it suggests they will continue to believe the tired story of the Judicial Council and the AOC empire building leadership that the cuts of last year were “one time cuts” or that the Chief Justice has some force and power with the Governor and the Democratic leaders of the legislature which will result in the funding of the trial courts over the needs of education, the sick and infirm and those who are in need of public services.

    They are either naive or in extreme denial with their understanding of the realities and challenges ahead. If they read the papers and the LAO’s report, this state’s problems next fiscal year are not getting better and there are no more “easy” solutions.

    By not planning ahead and analyzing two or three years out, the PJs indicate they are in denial that there is a statewide funding crisis of overwhelming proportions. The flames of this crises are now fanned by AOC mismanagement and its greed in preserving its own status quo, which is apparently growth in spite of the crippling of trial courts. And yet they sit silently while the “in the trench” judges are starting to scream for relief.

    If the local trial court leadership does continue their laissez-faire fare attitude regarding the AOC’s use of the funds entrusted to them for the benefit of the Trial Courts, I submit they will destroy their local court’s ability to tend to their responsibility to their county’s citizens to keep order and deliver justice in a timely manner. And in their denial they will exacerbate the problem.

    The issue about the use of these funds may be as great or greater than the current continuing and inappropriate expenditures for CCMS. These construction funds, generated by each county trial court, are a potential continuing source of revenue which can keep the trial courts open during this crises. As with CCMS, it makes no rational sense for the AOC to hoard these funds and continue to award contracts, when at the present moment and for the not too distant future, the trial courts are on the verge of collapse.

    As much as we need many new facilities around the state, for the instant future we need our trial court services more. We need to keep our staff employed and fully compensated. We need to keep our facilities and courtrooms open — with full hours every day of the week. We certainly do not need the AOC growing another huge construction arm to be fed on the backs of our local court’s budget.

    I believe the vast majority of trial court judges, attorneys and the citizens of our counties would instantly vote to use these funds to preserve our mission and keep our doors open for their use once they understand there is nothing more coming from the legislature. If I am correct, then any P.J. elected by his or her judges to run their courts and every court Executive Officer should think about just where their allegiance and responsibilities lie.

    Judge McCoy’s is a suggestion which should be fully vetted and addressed with the knowledge that there are no Santa Clauses left in Sacramento. We are on our own and we should insist the AOC act responsibly in supporting the trial courts of this state. AOC management should be promoting this idea not Judge McCoy. It is shameful they are not, but such speaks volumes to their allegiance to the AOC and Judicial Council managers rather than to their own trial courts.

  8. I believe that Judge McCoy’s actions go beyond stating the facts/obvious, but are also a strategy to inform and get the big unions in LA to continue to fight the AOC’s bad practices. Good for him.

  9. Judicial Observer

    You raise some great points. Unfortunately, I think this may be an issue that divides the courts, which will play to the AOC’s advantage.

    A friend of mine who works in the trial courts told me the AOC and/or CJA recruited some prominent judges to contact PJs and ask them to oppose any effort by LA to use SB 1407 funds for trial court operations. The AOC obviously wants to be able to go to legislature and portray LA as simply looking out for its own interests at the detriment of the other courts.

    This seems like a great opportunity for PJs and CEOs to finally take a stand. If they are truly interested in access to justice, they will demand that the AOC set aside its own agenda and consider the proposal put forth by Judge McCoy. I am sure some of those judges are concerned that their own projects will get delayed if they support LA. Or their project will lose priority in retalitation for taking a position contrary to the AOC/JC. I think leadership requires these judges to set aside thoes fears and do the right thing.

  10. Judicial Observer

    Moneywatcher,

    The idea that there are a group of sycophantic judges attempting to turn one trial court against another and stifle debate on this important issue is a sign of how perverse the fiscal control of the AOC and Judicial Counsel can be. It is another shameful example that the branch which should invite and cherish robust debate is is inwardly tarnished.

    Primary to all the trial courts in each and every county should be keeping their doors open to resolve the cases their county’s citizens bring to them. L.A. undoubtedly has needy courthouse construction projects (isn’t their Long Beach courthouse near the top of the priority list?) but Judge McCoy is taking a very principled stand and setting aside that need to address the foundational value of maintaining FULL access to justice in exceedingly difficult times.

    Judge McCoy is stating the public does not want new palaces of justice if they have to have the doors of the current old and dilapidated ones closed to them for the next few years. I think most working trial court judges believe the public, the persons whose money is being used, would prefer to have their cases heard in a warehouse if it meant they could be heard and not delayed. Why would any of us want to spend our court user’s money in such an irresponsible manner given the nature of this economic crises?

    Aren’t we reading and hearing of courts around the state closing branches, curtailing hours, downsizing, laying off employees and asserting true hiring freezes? It is not just L.A. It is not just a few courts. Each and every court and staff in the 50+ counties hurt and we are right now denying or delaying justice to our citizens and users. To continue to build courthouses and award contracts for architectural renderings when the money could be used to correct this injustice is the Judicial Branch’s version of “let them eat cake.”

    If there is this team of judges attempting to protect the AOC’s ever growing facility and construction appetite and persuade other PJs to counter Judge McCoy’s effort, they should be ashamed. They have decided their interest is in self advancement by doing the bidding of persons who care little about trial courts or in getting some upgraded chambers at the expense of the public and judges who put them in office.

    I hope it is not true. I hope my court and the PJs of all the trial courts have the foresight and intestinal fortitude to send any such emissaries packing and enter into the discussion on their own terms and with an honest look to the problems their courts are facing over the next three to five years. If they do, Judge McCoy will not be able to say “I told you so” later. I have to think that would be just fine with him.

  11. justinianscode

    I have spoken to (or at least heard from) judges who actively oppose Judge McCoy’s proposal regarding courthouse construction funds. Some of them are far from Judicial Council/AOC sycophants, while others are among those who toe the party line with regularity. I think this issue, though, transcends those usual distinctions.

    That said, it appears that judges on each side of this debate have principled reasons for their positions. If the JC/AOC leadership were doing its job correctly, it would facilitate a full discussion on the issue rather than pursue its own agenda on courthouse construction.

    Nothing is less central and more local than the decision whether a community needs a new courthouse or would be better served by keeping the present courthouse doors open.

  12. Judicial observer

    justinianscode,

    We are in complete agreement. My reference to sycophantic judges was only to those alleged by Moneywatcher to be doing the biding of the AOC leadership in attempting to turn this into an LA vs. everyone else issue. They love to turn trial courts against each other and deflect criticism and honest discussion.

    Clearly what is needed is a full, open and robust debate over this issue by the trial court leadership who should in turn be guided by and listen to their own judges in their county courts. The AOC and Judicial Council should take any message from them, not the other way around.

    Oh yes, they have the PJ and Exec. Officer advisory committees, but I am told that like everything else involving the AOC their agendas and the structure of meetings are tightly controlled by the AOC leaders. There is a rumor that when either this or the CCMS issue was discussed at a recent meeting, for the first time ever the meeting was electronically recorded. If true, I presume such was done for little other reason than to chill the debate, those in attendance knowing that the Directors would be assessing their comments. They do control the purse strings and they can do real damage to any trial court not toeing the party line by holding up funds or threatening audits which serve no purpose other than to harass.

    I want to reiterate my other point that someone in the trial courts must take the lead in discussing and addressing the current fiscal crises in multi-year segments, rather than the current one year at a time and we-hope-it-gets-better-next-year manner as seems seems to be done now. I get the feeling the AOC leaders posture the budgets this short sighted way so they can wait out the terms of each PJ and take advantage of unsuspecting new PJs who have little experience or education in these matters. Perhaps I am too cynical.

  13. Was any explanation given before — including obtaining an oral or written confirmation from all the meeting participants — a JC committee session was recorded electronically? Or did they just have a flunkie do it quietly and secretly and potentially put him or herself at risk?

    So many lawyers, so seldom consulted.

  14. I can certainly understand why some judges might agree with the AOC position and want to protect the SB 1407 funds for construction projects.

    The larger point, which I failed to adequately articulate, is instead of the AOC setting up a meeting or some other venue for all 58 PJs/CEOs to discuss a budget strategy, the AOC put together a lobbying effort and chose to have JC members call PJ’s and asked them to support the AOC position.

    The forum for resolution of these matters is a meeting in an environment conducive to open and honest discussion. The Judicial Council could hear from the courts themselves instead of making decisions based solely on the recommendations of AOC staff.

    It is inappropriate for AOC staff or other judges to attempt to influence PJs on this issue until it has been fully discussed and all stakeholders given the opportunity to provide input. It might be that after fully considering the respective positions of the courts, the JC determines SB 1407 funds should not be used for operations. But at least it would be a fully informed decision.

    The tail is wagging the dog. The AOC should solicit input from the courts on these issues, but should not lobby courts to support the AOC’s predetermined positions. If the AOC says they are only following JC policy, it is then incumbent on the Chief to require the JC to revisit its policy decisions given the extraordinary budget challenges faced by the state and the judicial branch.

  15. Moneywatcher, no AOC meeting is ever set up for open and honest discussion because Judges know speaking out against the AOC or the JC realize they could pay dearly for it. Wheather it be their career asperations or out of fear for their court’s budget. The AOC preys on that. Not to mention that there probably are many out their waiting to see if the king is nearly dead before they oppose him. Cause if you are going to kill the king you better make sure he is dead.
    Lastly, the CEOs have been pushing the AOC for open and honest communication and real input into important issues such as the budget and CCMS. What happens is they are given lip service and then the AOC goes on and does what they want, ignoring what was said…but then they could say they solicited input! Like someone said earlier, the AOC needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom before any meaningful change occurs

  16. justinianscode

    Another reason that committee meetings at the AOC, including Judicial Council Advisory Committees with judge members, do not foster open conversation is that AOC leadership sets the agenda.

    I have been in those meetings and seen judges start to bring up a topic, only to have staff say that the topic is not on the agenda and cannot be discussed. Any judge who naively persists in pursuing the topic is stonewalled. It’s not the staff members’ fault at that point, since they are only carrying out the directions their managers have given them.

    Once, I even heard a staff member explain that a topic a judge wanted to discuss was not on the agenda because the AOC had made a policy decision on the subject. The judge asked why the AOC was setting branch policy and not the Judicial Council; staff quickly backpedaled and said they meant the Judicial Council, of course, had set the policy. It looked as awkward as it reads here.

    I really appreciate the line staff I have worked with in the AOC, but the AOC leadership has forgotten that the Judicial Branch for whom they work is made up of the elected officials. At least, that’s what the state constitution says.

    It’s a lot like the Legislative Branch. The Legislature is made up of the elected members. Legislative staff are not the legislature, no matter how important staff is to the branch.

    In the Judicial Branch, the judiciary is made up of the elected judges (really, it’s in the Constitution and you can look it up). The staff are not the judiciary, and as valuable as they are it is the elected members of the branch who have the constitutional authority and responsibility for setting branch policy.

    The AOC leadership should re-read the California Constitution on this point in case they have any misunderstanding on the subject.

  17. The Judicial Council is not set up to function as a policy-making body that oversees an administrative arm. This is something that is very confusing to people, whether they work in the branch or not. No council member has any power to challenge an ongoing policy or funding issue because it would not have any impact.

    Mr. V reads his report before each meeting like a proud boy who has earned his American Cultures and Forestry merit badges. They don’t want to listen to another word he has to say because they don’t know what he does, or even what he is responsible for. But if the council started treating Mr. V more like a paid employee that they could question and evaluate, and in fact must (underline) do so because it is their duty, that might have an impact. The Chief is the Chair of a 27-member voting body after all, not head toastmaster. And the non-voting role for Mr. V may have originated in 1926 for the same purpose it serves today: Secretary.

  18. Courtflea, justiniancode, John Henry-

    You all obviously have experience with the AOC, and either work there or with the Courts. Your most recent comments really go to the core of the problem with the administration of the judicial branch.

    Issues like court closures, budget priorities, CCMS, etc. are important. However, the real issue is the manner in which these important policy decisions are made.

    While the JC might be the “policy making body” for the judicial branch, the AOC clearly is not. Yet, I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute that the AOC sets the agenda, literally and figuratively, for JC policy.

    CCMS is a an example of the AOC driving policy. The AOC, without seeking input from ALL courts, determined what it thought a “statewide” case management system should look like. It presented this concept to the JC for approval. The JC, relying solely on reports from AOC staff, approved the recommendation and it becomes policy. Then, when asked if it makes sense to continue to pay a system that will costs over a billion dollars at the same time courts are being closed, AOC staff responds by stating that it is a Judicial Council priority and “it is going to happen”.

    Using this strategy, the AOC leadership has effectively eliminated any opportunity to question or challenge a policy decision. Because policy is already well established, any dissent is labeled as be uninformed and not in the best interest of the branch.

    PJs and CEOs know this. Even if they disagree with, or have questions about policy decisions, few dare or bother to raise this issue. There is absolutely no upside to voicing dissent because the policy has already been established and won’t be revisited unless the AOC chooses to allow it. Unfortunately, there is a downside. The AOC holds the ability to make recommendations on advisory committees, discretionary funding decisions, facilities, etc.

    The AOC is able to construe the silence or lack of dissent as acquiescence and implicit support of the policy.

    I think we will see this played out this spring and summer, when it becomes apparent the judicial branch budget will be slashed. The AOC will pass along the full impact of these cuts to the Court because it can tell the legislature that the CCMS funds have been drained as a result of the JC’s recent allocations and that all the courts except LA object to using construction funds for operations.

    At that point, the PJs/CEOs who have gone along with the AOC strategy will realize the consequences of a system that does not allow for open discussion of important issues.

  19. Moneywatcher, you are right on except on one point: the PJs/CEOs who have gone along with the AOC strategy will not realize any consequences, it will be their employees and the public. The PJs and CEOs will still have their jobs and political stature that comes from sucking up to the chief and the AOC. These people will only realize the consequences when there is a major change in the AOC, the JC, and ultimately, the chief justice (or at the very least his vision and strategy for the branch). Forgive me for repeating this theme, but all other attempts at change, as well put above, have failed. Liberty, Equality and Faternity! As Oscar Wilde said:
    The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development. The error of Louis XIV was that he thought human nature would always be the same. The result of his error was the French Revolution. It was an admirable result.”

  20. Change is inevitable. Anyone can read from and post to this blog from any place in the world. The shocking myopia of the AOC may be its downfall. Anyone who has any interest in the court system of California is probably reading these words.

    Clerks. Judges. Students. Politicians. Researchers. Reporters. Jurors. Voters. Governors.

    We are younger. We like accountability.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Change is indeed inevitable. As those purse strings tighten, the trial courts will be demanding even more accountability so that they can defend their positions of having to lay off even more court staff to support CCMS and Court Construction – the two most expensive areas of the AOC’s operations with no accountability.

      To repeat the position of the AOC and this blog:

      “Just ignore it and it will all blow over”

      Why might they say that?

      Look at the post below and find out. They know something that you don’t know. What they know and what most people have not figured out is that the AOC is accountable to no one and hides behind the veil of being a part of the judiciary, a seperate branch of government and that anyone looking into those operations is likely violating the separation of powers doctrine. That eliminates all executive branch offices from taking any action, that eliminates the legislative branch from taking any action other than blind action regarding the overall judicial branch budget. While assemblyman Leland Yee has been a champion of whistleblower protection in the Judicial Branch, our governor will not sign a bill that extends these important protections to AOC employees.

      Given his current prison situation, it only makes sense to throttle the pace at which cases where the incarcerated will be heading to the big house and the only way that can be accomplished is to bring cases in the system to a virtual crawl.

      That can only happen when people are laid off on the front line.

  21. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Oddly enough, no one has oversight responsibility over the AOC’s operations.

    Look within the judicial branch yourself and ask yourself who has oversight responsibility over the AOC . The AOC has auditing over the trial courts. Who has independent auditing responsibility over the AOC?

    That answer is no one. They are accountable to no one. Nobody has oversight authority over the AOC’s operations. Not the supreme court and the Chief, not the Judicial Council themselves, no one.

    This is not in the public interest considering the AOC is now the largest holder of state real estate in terms of structures owned and operated and nearly overnight was made one of California’s largest public works agencies.

    Do you think that the AOC should be exempting itself from the public works processes between any existing 4 walls? It is – and the question needs to be asked why.

    Public works and private software development are sectors of government contracting where fraud, waste and abuse is abundant, plentiful and rampant and now you have a branch of government unwilling to investigate itself to prevent it and no one with oversight authority.

    Combine these elements with an entity that is just getting into these operations for the first time ever, with no meaningful oversight and you have set up the perfect conditions for fraud, waste and abuse to run rampant – and no effective oversight internal or external to prevent it.

    Combine this with both a lack of whistleblower protection and an unwillingness to take appropriate action when someone does come forward and you are setting up a situation where trial court funds are going to diverted to AOC projects for year to come and construction funds will run dry paying for new courthouses that will only be open two days a week

    You read that correctly – now let’s see if you can name that new courthouse that will only be open two days a week.

    This goes for both CCMS software development as well as OCCM’s maintenance and construction operations. These operations are all operations unfamilar to the Judicial Council.

    They are left to trust that the AOC, who has little to no experience in these areas is both doing the right thing and not getting burned in the process.

    A collection of judges and justices standing in front of a committee on accountability does not change these facts, it just muddies the water.

    Sadly, they are neither doing the right thing and they’re getting badly burned in the process and there’s not a soul in state government with the power to stop it other than the self-policing AOC.

    IAD is asleep at the wheel because it reports to the finance department. God forbid that even if scandal is uncovered (which it has by the way, several times…) no one in the AOC or judicial branch is empowered to investigate and prosecute it! What’s more is the chicken is reporting to the fox!

    When you have the whistleblower guy reporting to the guys that manage the vendors, you have an inherent conflict of interest that results in nothing ever being found! Imagine that!

    Don’t you think these savvy government contractors know that? The AOC will never admit they were ripped off, even if they are being ripped off (and by the way, they are being robbed blind in several areas currently)

    What district attorney or state attorney general would decline to prosecute a $100,000.00 embezzlement case?

    Ask Mr. Bill for proof that this case was submitted and declined to prosecute and who declined to prosecute because frankly, something stinks with that story.

    That’s what Mr. Bill told the committee. Do you believe that thieves walk away with a hundred grand without being prosecuted? Show me just one similar case. Just one.

    This is not New United Motor Manufacturing where you pull a line cord and the assembly line stops to iron out a problem. The AOC is more like – don’t admit the problem, don’t admit the failed direction and spend your way out of it quietly so that no one is the wiser.

    Let’s put CCMS into perspective:

    The AOC will have spent nearly as much on CCMS through the completion and deployment of V4 that was spent by Microsoft developing the Windows 7 operating system.

    This doesn’t cause anyone to question the process itself?