Judicial Wars: Did AOC Attempt to “Sell” an Approach

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”

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15 responses to “Judicial Wars: Did AOC Attempt to “Sell” an Approach

  1. I don’t blame Philip, he is not a supervisor or a manager and he has been put in the difficult position of fielding inquiries from the outside (that often have to do with people in the courts or the AOC who make much more money than he does). The head of Communications should be more in charge of messaging, since he makes a Senior Manager’s salary.

    But the real issue — again — suprise! — is accountability! Every time something comes up, the AOC hides behind the council or the Chief Justice, two entities that do not run the AOC.

  2. I feel bad for Philip too. He has obviously been left out on a limb by his Sr. Manager, who it has been reported, only answers to the Chief Justice these days. The Metro News Enterprise piece doesn’t say to whom Philip’s original e-mail was sent, but it’s worth noting that the Director of EOP, the AOC division Philip is assigned to, is also named Ken (Kann). Could it be that Philip’s closing comment, “good luck in selling this approach to Ken,” was intended for his immediate superior at the AOC? Seems to be the AOC way these days that hard working rank and filers take the heat for so called management types.

  3. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I don’t think that the AOC has figured out that media outlets from around the state as well as other government agencies – and now it’s bleeding over to a national level – are working together and comparing notes.

    It’s called investigative reporting.

    What’s being fleshed out as a result of this well orchestrated activity is that the AOC is led by some of the least credible people in California’s court system and that the situation is deteriorating faster than they ever imagined.

    I am still waiting for the announcement of Bill and Ron’s resignation or retirement as a result these catastrophic failures of leadership and revisionist history.

    AOC management, in case you haven’t figured it out, the media is giving you every benefit of the doubt but you keep tossing yourselves under the bus! I also recall your latest whistleblower mentioned this would happen in one of his many email to you that he published on the web.

    But hey you didn’t listen to him before, why start now, right?

  4. This is again what I don’t get … do Billyron think no one reads this blog and that serious problems will just rise up in the air and disappear … poof!

    Of course people at the AOC agree with the ACJ’s position. If it’s more accountable, then it’s going to prevail. The council was told eons ago that the number one thing that would help them with the public and with voters was accountability … did anyone listen? Apparently not. And I thought our courts were already clogged up with lawsuits, why invite more?

    • And happy holidays to you too, dear Claire. Between you and Wendy Darling, I don’t know who is the queen of the ball but you are both lovely and insightful.

  5. My guess is that Phillip won’t be with the AOC much longer. I feel sorry for him too but when are people going to learn that putting stuff you want left confidential in email is not a good idea?

  6. Not Phillip’s fault that someone was dumb/careless enough to forward his email. At least he’s thinking about things even if he has to downplay the importance of his thoughts to cover his behind.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Actually the AOC can expect to be called on the carpet for any such indiscretion and all eyes are watching for them.

      Philip was entirely correct and this is the problem with the AOC. Telling the truth these days in the AOC is refreshingly rare.

      The AOC’s executive leadership makes a statement and then one of OGC’s obfuscators basically lies and says “we covered that in a seperate document” that does not apply. This is the way of AOC management. Baffle them with bullshit.

  7. Philip is being used as a shield for any darts targeted towards the AOC in the form of inquiries and questions. And, as you can tell from his email statements, he is TRYING to tell them they are wrong! Knowing the AOC upper management like we do, it *IS* merely Philip’s personal opinion because the AOC isn’t about to admit they are wrong, or take his advice/opinion and make it THEIR own regardless of the truth!

    If we draw the line out on this, considering the AOC’s past response to those employees who try to point out the AOC is incorrect (and in this case it actually gets leaked out to the world which makes it a double-whammy for poor Philip!), we can’t expect AOC appreciation for a person looking out for their best interest….oh no…..instead, expect to see Philip get demoted or fired. Isn’t that how the AOC’s personnel policy has functioned for years?

    And, hey AOC (since I know you are reading this! *waves and smiles*) your ongoing lies and constant attempts at coverup are much different this time around! Why? Because this time you are being scrutinized closely under a microscope from numerous influential directions with the veil being slowly pulled back to shed light on the truth! May the truth prevail!

  8. Dear Santa,

    I know that you are very busy, as it is Christmas Eve tonight, and I do apologize for the late correspondence, but I have a last minute request.

    Could you please send someone to talk to The Lost Boys? The particular problem at the moment is an inability to tell the truth, and it appears to have taken a rather serious turn as there are indications that The Lost Boys have recently been untruthful, or least very misleading, with a group of judges. I should probably also let you know that a number of others have attempted to discuss this matter with The Lost Boys, but to no avail. So if you could please send someone that The Lost Boys will have to take seriously, perhaps someone with a badge, that might be very helpful.

    My apologies again for the late correspondence, and have a safe trip tonight.

    Most Sincerely,
    Wendy Darling

  9. Phil Carrizosa, before he started working at the AOC, was a very highly regarded journalist and editor at the Daily Journal covering California’s courts and legal system. I always appreciated his work, since he always reported clearly and with great insight on the happenings in the legal field.

  10. peppermint pattie

    Judge Fall,

    For those at the AOC who know and work with Phillip it has been difficult to watch Phillip struggle these past many months to preserve his credibility and integrity in the face of having to obey what he is being told to do by the failed AOC leadership.

    As many of the AOC line staff employees know and have personally experienced, there is no more destructive force than watching the team sacrificed to the self-serving and unethical actions of those who abuse their positions and authority and the public trust in order to shield themselves from accountability for their conduct.

    Be assured that there are those within the AOC who care for Phillip and understand he has few options but to obey.

  11. Amen, Pattie. Thank you for stating the truth, and for voicing our support for Phillip and all the others made to suffer AOC management’s abuse.

  12. I also thank you, Pattie. Truth has incredible value and power.

  13. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I am amused by how often Mr. Bill, Ron-O and Mr. George touted ‘transparency and accountability’ over the past few years.

    Please note how their recent interviews and dog and pony shows no longer include this mantra because they have been repeatedly called to the carpet with indisputable proof that transparency is a fallacy and only others should be held accountable.

    Its my hope that Phillip is writing a book about being a public information officer and having to carry the messages of failed leadership.

    I’ll buy that book Phillip. I know others will too.