Somebody in the California Administrative Office of the Courts’ (AOC) propaganda PR department must not have gotten the memo on staying on topic. Even if staying on topic means contradicting something a person in your own department admits is true.
The Metropolitan News Enterprise published an article by Kenneth Ofgang in which he detailed how the AOC was countering one of the main items of the Alliance of California Judges’ (ACJ) platform which they listed in a letter sent out last Friday. And that would be the ACJ’s effort to push the Judicial Council to “reaffirm the rights of the local trial courts by putting into law the Trial Court Bill of Rights which the Judicial Council failed to adopt.”
The AOC’s response came from none other than the AOC’s Salesman in Chief Deputy Director Ron Overholt.
“The Trial Court Funding Act recognizes that the trial courts have the authority to manage themselves, including discretion over their budget decisions. The drafting of this historic act took place over a series of months and involved stakeholders from the courts and state and county governments. The underlying premise of those discussions was local control by each trial court within the budget and fiscal management parameters established by the Judicial Council.”
Now here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. Judge David Lampe of the Kern Superior Court wrote the AOC in November asking for a copy of the “Trial Courts Bill of Financial Management Rights.” According to the article an attorney for the AOC by the name of William L. Kasley replied to Judge Lampe’s request by telling him that
“the issue was adequately addressed by the Judicial Council Trial Court Financial Policies and Procedures Manual, and by a rules of court that Kasley said “provides the presiding judge with broad authority to manage the court’s budget.”
And that would seem to be the end of that as far as the AOC was concerned. Except for one thing. Somebody at the AOC actually agreed with Judge Lampe and actually sent out an email saying so within the AOC. And you know the curse with emails. They can be forwarded. Which is what somebody did.
Someone forwarded to the Metropolian News-Enterprise an email written by Philip Carrizosa, who happens to be an AOC spokesperson. Not only does Carrizosa state his support of Judge Lampe’s position but he also says that the statement sent out by the AOC attorney Kasley was pointless because it doesn’t answer the issues addressed by Judge Lampe.
“On this point, I think the Alliance is correct—The Legislature did ask the Judicial Council to draft a Trial Court Bill of Financial Management Rights and the council never did that. The finance policy quoted [by Kasley] specifies nothing about those rights. [Bold in original.]
In addition to pointing out the meaninglessness of referring to a policy that doesn’t apply, Carrizosa also says something in his email that I think says a lot about the AOC and its approach to any and ALL requests and criticisms. Referring to the AOC’s planned approach of countering the ACJ’S position, Carrizosa says:
“All we can do is emphasize that the finance policy recognizes that each trial court is responsible for managing its own operations.
“Good luck in selling this approach to Ken.”
Got that AOC Watcher readers? “Good luck in selling this approach to Ken.” And who is Ken you ask? Well, I think that would be Kenneth Ofgang, the reporter who wrote this. In other words, one of the AOC’s PR department minions agress with the ACJ and then wishes his fellow spin doctors luck in trying to sell the AOC’s little fairytale instead of admitting that the ACJ had a point and were correct. But that would mean that the AOC would have to admit they were wrong in their response. And we all know that one has a better chance of seeing unicorns rather than the AOC conceding anything in an opponent’s favor.
When he was contacted about the emails, by I presume Mr. Ofgang, Mr. Carrizosa:
“explained last night that the e-mail should not have been forwarded to the MetNews because it represents his ‘personal opinion,’ which is ‘entirely irrelevant.’
Umm…your point of view in which you agree with the other side is “entirely irrelevant.” Wow. Seems someone’s been drinking too much of the Kool Aid.
You can read the whole article here and clicking on the article titled “AOC Official Disputes Claim Local Courts Lack Control of Finances”