When the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review held its hearing on the AOC in October of this year, it was no surprise to many who were present, or who later read of the proceedings, that so many judges would make the trek up to Sacramento to defend the AOC. As far as many of these judges were concerned, the AOC could do no wrong and any idea of interfering with the AOC was tantamount to treason.
And though it may have appeared at that hearing that all of California’s Superior Court judges were on the AOC’s side, it became apparent both during that hearing and even before then, that one small group of vocal and dedicated judges were not.
The Alliance of California Judges first gained notice in August when a Daily Journal article detailed how a group of judges were so disillusioned with how the AOC was handling the budget crisis facing the courts they discussed forming a new judges association. A meeting of judges in San Diego led to the eventual formation of the ACJ.
The ACJ is now on the forefront of the fight to bring more accountability and transparency to the AOC. The group has called for the affirmation of the rights of local courts and the creation of a Trial Court Advisory Group. A group consisting of:
trial judges elected by judges from the 58 county trial courts, with provisions to balance the interests of smaller and larger courts, which could advise the Judicial Council, provide oversight to the AOC, and report upon the judicial budget and judicial affairs to the public, the Legislature, the Governor, and the Judicial Council itself.
In addition the group is also seeking to encourage the legislature to protect AOC employees by placing them under whistle blower laws. A protection that current AOC employees do not have.
I’ve written many times in this blog that the judges of this state needed to take back the control that they had ceded to the AOC and the JC and that they needed to stand up for court employees who dedicate themselves to the service of Californians who enter through the courthouse doors. It would appear that with the formation of the ACJ, a supportive group of judges may have finally gotten the message.