Crystal Gavel Nominee: Judge Charles W. McCoy of LA Superior Court

One judge in particular comes to my mind as being on the forefront of the battle to redirect the AOC’s focus away from funding other projects such as computer systems and court construction and focusing them on maintaining current court services. That judge is the Hon. Charles W. McCoy, presiding judge of LA Superior Court.

Since the middle of 2009 Judge McCoy has given presentations for the legal community and offered his thoughts to the media on what the future holds for LA Superior courts if budget cuts were to continue or if deeper cuts to court budgets were implemented in his county. He spoke of the possibility of laying off 300 court employees, which would have a ripple effect of closing courtrooms and courthouses. According to news reports it takes about 10 court employees to run a court. And if those employees are let go, well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next.

Judge McCoy’s solution to this problem is his suggestion that the state temporarily halt revenue that would go into court construction and redirect it to county courts for trial court operations. The following passage is taken from an article printed in the Whittier Daily News:

One possible temporary solution would be to put off the sale of a $5 billion bond issue to build new courthouses.

The bond was to be paid off by increased fees and fines – already approved by the state Legislature.

“We could use the income stream for a short period of time to support the operations of the court,” McCoy said. “When we emerge from (the recession) we could redirect that income stream back to the bonds.”

Los Angeles County’s share would be about $73 million, McCoy said.

Judge McCoy has made it very clear that this diversion of court construction funds would be temporary and that once California emerged from the recession, funding would be redirected back to court construction. It would appear to me that he is of the opinion that court construction is fine and needed. However, maintaining current court services should probably be more of a priority.

Judge McCoy faces a rather daunting opposition. He is opposed by the California Administrative Office of the Courts, Chief Justice Ronald George and the Judicial Council, and at the time of the printing of the article mentioned above, 50 out of 58 presiding judges. Unions and other groups that would have an interest in court construction have also voiced their opposition at halting court construction.

Yet even with the knowledge that he faces an opposition with deep financial pockets and strong political ties, Judge McCoy remains firm in his determination to have the redirection of court construction funds solution considered and debated. And it is for his courageous, and I believe rational, stand that I nominate Judge McCoy for a Crystal Gavel award.

In conclusion I will end with a quote from an op-ed piece written by Judge Philip K. Mautino and printed in the Press Telegram.

What sense does it make to construct empty courtrooms if there are no personnel to operate them? We estimate each courtroom requires 10 employees plus a judicial officer. On July 1, we will lay off 500 employees and close 50 courtrooms, with more to come.

This matter should be debated in the Legislature starting in January. We ask every citizen to consider this issue and to express their views to their local legislators as to whether we could postpone the issuance of these bonds, and divert the interest money for court operations.

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8 responses to “Crystal Gavel Nominee: Judge Charles W. McCoy of LA Superior Court

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Faux communique from the AOC-

    Dear Judge McCoy,

    We regret that you find it difficult to financially navigate your way around our current budget crisis and you feel the need to lay off 500 employees and curtail access to justice. Might we suggest that the 500 jobs you eliminate all be union jobs?

    As you know it is and has been the goal of the AOC to break the backs of court unions, with Los Angeles’s union being the largest and most vocal in the state. We further understand that one of the courthouses you are targeting for closure is the the Glendale courthouse in Glendale, California. This your honor was a wise choice as the Office of Court Construction & Management has selected this courthouse to be replaced.

    Once the budget crisis passes in a few years and courthouse construction is completed in Glendale, the AOC can they re-staff this new courthouse with non-union employees vetted and selected by our own HR department.

    In the meantime, we can bring all new employees onboard as temps of the Robert Half organization of companies.

    While we at the AOC don’t do business with them due to a possible conflict of interest (save one accountemp embezzeler) our AOC HR department generally recommends the Robert Half organization to the trial courts and these individuals walking into a new courthouse can be screened for anti-union sentiment.

    Truly Yours,

    AOC

  2. Speaking for the unicorns, we love this site. It encourages humor, creative thinking and open discussion. Did you know that the AOC may have fibbed to the Legislature in April 2008? Read their report to the Legislature on CCMS and look at the assertions, timelines and the promises. Thank you to everyone for making this site so entertaining and valuable.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/documents/reports/042508infoonly.pdf

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Phoenix – a failed program risen from the dead

      CCMS – the 1.75 billion dollar solution to a 50 million dollar issue

      Striking is the wide deployment schedule that never materialized.

      One has to question if the AOC has a single credible leader among them.

  3. Judge McCoy is exhibiting leadership. California desperately needs new leadership to help restore the largest and greatest court system in the United States.

  4. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Judge McCoy is exhibiting leadership. The kind of leadership that is necessary to run the single largest county court system in the nation. I applaud this leadership and hope that many of the other 50 trial court PJ’s step up to the plate, along with a few appellate PJ’s because it certainly hasn’t been the CJ.

  5. Claire Voyant

    With all due respect to those who work in court construction, isn’t the primary goal of the judicial branch access and fairness? Citizens need to have their matters heard and their problems resolved. And dialogue over the best use of scarce funds will enhance public trust and confidence, not diminish it.

  6. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    This is as good a time as any to update our readers on the highlights of Alliance of AOC Employees AOC transparency and Accountability survey that continues to run until January 15th.

    68% believe that the executive leadership – and those that lead failed programs should submit their resignations.

    47% of the respondents would enjoy working more for the AOC if the leadership were replaced

    33% of the respondents would enjoy working more for the AOC if the dirt was cleaned up

    83% of respondents believe the 14 appointed members of the Judicial Council should be elected

    90% of respondents believe that the whistleblowing function and investigative authority needs to be moved outside of the AOC.

    90% of respondents believe that a forensic audit of the AOC’s purchasing and accounting practices needs to happen.

    61% of respondents believe that CCMS is a boondoggle that should be ended

    24% of respondents believe that CCMS should be given to California’s Universities instead of a sole-source contract. Notably, several comments indicate that the sole source justification form does not properly justify the sole source and that its a fabricated lie.

    61% of respondents say slow courthouse construction

    17% say continue to build, 17% stop construction altogether

    67% of respondents indicate the Chief Justice is not a credible person to lead the judicial branch.

    82% of respondents indicate that Bill Vickery is not a credible person to lead the AOC.

    70% of respondents indicate that Ron Overholt is not a credible person to lead the AOC.

    A majority of respondents who believe certain directors and managers that should resign have targeted one RAD, one director and two assistant directors. While many other names and reasons have been submitted, these would be the top four of the respondents.

    74% of respondents believe the managers and directors who got those raises while everyone else in the judicial branch took a pay cut believe they should give them back.

    68% of respondents believe the AOC lacks the proper amount of checks and balances.

    81% of respondents indicate that the AOC covers up its mistakes so that no one is the wiser.

    60% of respondents hold AOC executive leadership responsible for the use of unlicensed contractors.

    50% hold OCCM management and Business Services and the finance unit responsible

    40% hold FMU management responsible

    17% hold certain Judicial Council members responsible

    22% of respondents have provided a list of names of those who should be held accountable.

    60% of respondents indicate that consultants carry far more weight than employees.

    67% of respondents indicate that the bureau of state audits should provide auditing services and 14% of respondents indicate independent non-government auditors should provide this function.

    The survey runs until January 15th and can be taken at: zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB22A2UNBJV4J

    Maybe your input can help keep Judge McCoy’s courthouses open.

  7. versal-versal

    I have always admired Judge McCoy as a very thoughtful insightful leader. His views about courthouse construction funds represent the need for positive change in our branch. The decision on how best to use these funds should be made at a local level so that the unique needs of each county can be met. Our democracy was based on local rather than centralized state control. The legislature and/or the voters need to please act to democratize the Judicial Council so that power in the branch is no longer concentrated in the CJ alone – so that new diverse and perhaps even contrary ideas are set forth to best serve the citizens of California.