Judicial Wars: Some Justices Decline Contributing to AOC’s Voluntary Salary Waiver

Following in the steps of some superior court judges who declined to participate in the AOC’s Voluntary Salary Waiver program (VSW), in which judges volunteered to donate a portion of their salary in solidarity with court staff who were enduring mandatory furloughs, a group of state justices have chosen instead to donate their contributions not to the AOC but to their own courts.  Still others have decided to bypass the court system altogether and have donated to charity like Justice Terry O’Rourke who donated his share to a library in his county.

An article in the Daily Journal details Justice O’Rourke’s contribution and his reasons why he decided not to have it go to the AOC.

Fourth District Justice Terry O’Rourke says he gave $7,500 to the UC-San Diego library, which had its budget slashed this year. “I do not believe it possible to partially waive a constitutional right,” he explained by e-mail, “so I chose another option. Since I believe the AOC is overstaffed and overpaid, I donated a portion of my salary to a part of the state government that will not waste my money.”

Ouch! Tell us how you really feel Justice O’Rourke.

The other justices mentioned or quoted in the article had their own reasons for not participating in the VSW program. One of the main ones had to do with the justices not wanting to waive any protections guaranteed them under Article III, Section 4 which deals with reduction in judges’ salaries during their term.

But aside from Justice O’Rourke, I found Justice James McIntyre’s comment quite colorful as it had me thinking of Sinatra when I read his quote.

Justice James McIntyre of the Fourth District in San Diego explained his decision this way: “As in many things that come down from on high, you sort of get the idea this is what they want you to
do. So I chose to do it my own way.”

Spoken like a true independent judicial officer.

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41 responses to “Judicial Wars: Some Justices Decline Contributing to AOC’s Voluntary Salary Waiver

  1. Very interesting since the 4th District is also home to the Judicial Council’s own Hon. Richard D. Huffman, he of the famous “I’ll be damned…” comment at last month’s business meeting. I wonder what he thinks of his colleagues going rogue.

    • justinianscode

      From what I’ve heard, Justice Huffman is not in the majority in the 4th DCA when it comes to branch governance issues. He’s not standing alone yet, but apparently he’s not commanding a majority viewpoint. And if he truly is in the minority, does that mean he’s the one who is going rogue?

  2. Do not forget Justice McConnell who is a favorite of the Chief Justice. She along with Justice Huffman are some of the strongest supporters of the Chief Justice.

    The actions of these good Justices on the 4th in doing the right thing, even if it is unpopular, is to be commended. This is particularily true as these Justices are either friends with the Chief Justice or are close to him as the Justices, and the members of the Supreme Court, are a select group of about 150. It is not easy to take such a stand when there is this type of relationship.

    Omerta says welcome to the membership of the “shrill and uninformed”.

  3. Perhaps the Justices of the 4th are just as tired of J Huffman and his imperious ways as many of us are. Heck, they gotta deal with this guy on a day to day basis.

    But Omerta is correct, it is a very brave stance and I for one am happy to see them find the courage to go rouge.

  4. Given that every penny contributed to through the VSW program goes back to the courts, one of the the basic premises of this post “…to donate their contributions not to the AOC but to their own courts” is entirely misleading.

    No part of the VSW was ever intended, nor will ever, reach AOC coffers.

    • Just Sayin’:

      How do we know, without a doubt, this is true? Just because VSW funds were not intended to reach AOC coffers, doesn’t exclude it from happening. There were many things that were never intended and, yet, look where we are, today!

  5. Just Sayin’:

    While the original idea was for a judge’s voluntarily waived salary to return to that judge’s court, the attorneys who looked the plan over decided it probably would not pass muster with the IRS as an actual salary waiver. Instead it would look more like a directed salary designation, so that it would apparently be counted as income for tax purposes. At least, that’s what the memo to the judges said when the Judicial Council and AOC were working with the legislature on salary waiver legislation. So the idea became that judges could wiave salary, and the state would place the waived salary into the Judicial Branch’s court operations accounts without designating it to a particular court.

    When the Judicial Council voted at their meeting a couple months back, on AOC recommendation, to drain the Trial Court Trust Fund (the operating account) and put the tens of millions of dollars there into the account for CCMS, a number of judges felt there was no longer any likelihood that waived salary would go back to court operations.

    Appellate justices and trial court judges alike are voting with their pocketbooks. Some are waiving salary under the enabling statute and allowing the Judicial Council and AOC to redirect the funds as they like. Others are directing their money elsewhere for what they perceive to be a more localized benefit. Each decision, I hope, is being made after careful and thoughtful consideration.

    But, as we have seen from the Judicial Council’s decision to move TCTF money to CCMS, your assertion that waived salary will not reach “AOC coffers” is based on a long rejected proposition. The Judicial Council can and will vote to use the money as it deems best, whether for court operations of otherwise.

  6. Well said, Judge Fall. The AOC for years has used the various funds for any purpose they thought appropriate. They give lip service to the designations but then fudge on the distribution. But in any case, the AOC views the TCTF to be for the benefit of the trial courts and CCMS to be for the benefit of the trial courts. Therefore money in the trust fund goes to CCMS and anything else that Bill V. thinks falls under the general description of trial court related. If you ever did an audit of the funds, there would be many interesting revelations.

    OH, and it is also the fund the Bill V. uses to reward certain trial courts for their compliance and good character vis-a-vis the AOC. Ever wonder how they can keep all those PJ’s in line?

  7. @Pacwest50: What interesting revelations would these be? What “rewards” to certain courts are you referring to? What evidence is there of distributions being “fudged”? I’m sure everyone here would be interested in any information to support these allegations.

    With regards to the issue of participation in the VSW program, I think we can all agree that if the AOC somehow utilized (despite contrary direction from the council) funding directly related to judicial salary contributions–there would be absolute hell to pay; game over. There is no precedent for this particular scenario and I don’t think anyone would advocate for such a thing.

    • What evidence is there, you ask? Unfortunately, it has been well established that what we see is only what the AOC wishes us to see! At least that was the case prior to the establishment of the AOCW blog which, in and of itself, has revealed enough to warrant a full audit! A full AOC audit is long overdue and, if the AOC has nothing to hide, this shouldn’t be a problem for them, eh? I agree with pacwest50 that such an audit would, indeed, reveal interesting facts, much to the dismay of some people!

  8. Speaking of audits, did you know that the AOC is going to post all of the audits of the trial courts on their website? Another way tfor the AOC to attempt to deflect the heat away from them, no doubt, as they are willing to hang others dirty laundry out to dry. To the AOC being transparent applies to the trial courts only. I agree the AOC should submit VOLUNTARILY immediately to a major audit by an independent agency and then have it posted on their website! After all they have nothing to hide right Ron and Bill? Your credibity is already down the toilet, based on your own words, an independent audit should restore that, right Ron and Bill? I bet LA would pay for it for you too!

    Yeah, right.When hell freezes over.

  9. PattyJaneSmith

    Interesting that they are now going to post those audits. especially when in the past they’d share them with no one except when they wanted to kick some dirt on a court. Court Flea you know them so well when you say they are doing this as an attempt to deflect attention from themselves. It is so obvious! I was going to say transparent, but we all know how they feel about transparency.

    • Not true. As a matter of policy, final audit reports have been available, by written request, to anyone for the past several years. This includes audits conducted by, for, or of the AOC.

      In the future, I suggest some fact checking.

      • justinianscode

        Speaking of facts, it seems like there’s a disconnect between equating a past practice of making audits available upon written request with posting them all as a matter of course. It might be a good idea to do so, but it’s not like it’s the same thing. I’m just sayin’.

      • J. Edgar Who?

        Actually Just Sayin’ the fact is that no reports have been available.

        John Judnick has taken he view that only final reports would be available to the public and since he was the one who decided when a report was final chose to never issue a final report.

        Unless of course you know of some other source of those reports, such as say the one that disclosed the CEO of Marin playing fast and loose with the public’s funds…

      • Talk about consistency! This sounds akin to John Judnick’s procedure on internal whistleblower complaint investigations! The final investigation report never seems to materialize! Could this, perhaps, explain why the $100K embezzlement matter never got prosecuted? Or, why not one single whistleblower complaint was ever pursued during all of the AOC years of operation….with the exception of the recent partial pursuit on the matter discovered by Mr. Michael Paul on the unlicensed contractors and related overcharges? And that was done only because of Mr. Paul’s fortitude in strategically placing the AOC in a position where they couldn’t avoid it! Otherwise, I’m sure that matter would have been silently brushed under the carpet in-house, just like all of the previous whistleblower complaints were. Tsk, tsk!

  10. I neglected to say that I reckon the AOC is also posting the audits as a means to attempt to demonstrate to whomever that the AOC is needed to oversee these poor trial courts that somehow did not measure up to the AOC’s arbitrary, makes no sense, they know not what they are doing, operational audits. As I have stated before on this site, those that are conducting these “operational audits” have no clue about the court system and the laws that govern them. The only thing they know is the AOC financial manual (and guess who made that up?).

    • I attempted to reply to this but apparently got modded into oblivion. Guess the 1st Amendment has no place on this blog. As I said before, this is basically a Tea Party focused on the AOC instead of the Democrats.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        I hardly see what the democrats would have to do with this Judge. Nonetheless, your post was probably wildly off-topic and didn’t deserve to see the light of day. ce la vie. Better luck next time.

        Again – you might want to deal with the facts than attack the messengers.

  11. Agreed, courtflea and PattyJaneSmith. With the AOC being the one conducting the audits on the trial courts, I highly doubt those audits will carry the weight they once did…..or, rather, they shouldn’t considering the questionable credibility of the source! If the AOC truly plans to post that information publicly on their website, I believe it’s merely another sneaky strategic “damage control” maneuver that will be done solely in an attempt to divert attention away from their own wrongdoings. (i.e. Did they previously plan to do this prior to their actions being publicly questioned?)

    It’s amazing to me that the AOC somehow believes these type of tactics will work at this stage. As they say, all that glitters is not gold!

  12. Thanks for the clarification, Just Sayin’. Although, from past experience I know that policy was not consistently applied and in fact most requests for that sort of information was denied more often than not. Just sayin…..that’s been the experience.

  13. Bingo Wise Employee! And don’t forget, the Judicial Branch has never been subject to the public records act and still is not, so the AOC can withhold or give out whatever information it chooses. Right Mr. Judnick? For example, did the Alliance of CA Judges get a satisfactory response to their fiscal inquires of the AOC? Did the Legislature?

    And by the way, just sayin, if there has been any AOC audits, will they be posted? Not!

  14. PS not to mention Michael Paul never received the information he requeted from the AOC either. Just sayin

  15. WiseEmployee

    I understand that the Legislature is still waiting…..and waiting….

    • Wendy Darling

      and waiting … and waiting …

      “Until the cows come home …”
      “Until *!## freezes over …”
      “When pigs fly …”
      “It got lost in the mail …”
      “The tape got erased …”

  16. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    “it got deleted off the web servers”

  17. PattyJaneSmith

    Judge Dredd – what do the Democrats have to do with all the garbage created at the AOC? Last I checked, Bill Vickery was in charge of running the place into the ground at the direction and approval of the Judicial Council. At least that’s the claim that nothing happens at the AOC without the approval and direction of the JC. To blaim the Democrats or the Republicans sounds like an incredibly desperate and weak attempt to deflect responsibilty from the AOC. C’mon…nobody buys that and I mean nobody.

    • Sorry you misunderstood. All I meant was that this blog seems a little one-sided in the presentation of the issues affecting the Judicial Branch, much like Fox News or redstate.com. In other words, dissenting viewpoints need not even both showing up.

      I certainly didn’t mean to imply that actual Republican/Democrat politics have anything to do with the issues discussed here.

  18. No problem here with dissenting views. I would love, for example, someone to tell me why the AOC was hell-bent on giving so much money to one vendor (Deloitte). Much of what people need to do at court is similar to going to the DMV (pay a fine, wait in line, talk to a clerk, get something processed). CCMS is problematic because it was always spending before planning, or starting over because no one knew what they were doing. No offense the recent justice who defended CCMS, but a “pay as you go” approach has been a disaster. Consultants will always take your money and say more is needed.

  19. ditto Mary Hart. I wish someone please would prove all of us wrong! I think we all want to believe that eveyone wants to best serve the courts, put justice and access to the courts before personal/political gain. But like the motto of the great state of MO, Just Show Me! Please Judge Dredd, Ocomeon, etc. show us! All of this negativity was not just born yesterday, it has been from years of experience and frustration. Bring on the dissenting viewpoints but just prove to me, the little flea, why I should set aside my years of frustration and consternation with the AOC, and believe they are really here to serve for the benefit of the branch and all Californians. I think that is fair enough.

  20. All’s fair in love and war, Mr. Flea.

    Does anyone know anything about Government Strategies, Inc., located in Sacramento? They lobbied for Deloitte Consulting from 4/1/07 through 9/30/07.

  21. Special Prosecutor

    Mary – GSI lobbies the Legislature and the Governor’s office. Deloitte Consulting paid them $16,000 for the following services (via the Secretary of State’s data base):

    AB 617,1579; GOVERNOR’S OFFICE,LEGISLATURE,DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE RE: DISCUSSIONS REGARDING PROCUREMENT REFORM

    It’s ironic since Deloitte went to the third branch for large contracts, but is also the branch in most need of procurement reform: the judicial branch.

  22. Special Prosecutor

    More info if you are interested in the topic:

    “The new process for IT procurement is rooted in legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October 2007. California AB 617 amended state contracting code to require the state CIO’s office to review and assess the performance of IT contracts, and for the DGS to develop “risk mitigation analysis” models for IT contracts. The amendment also waives the requirement of performance bonds for IT vendors, which is required in only a few states.”

    CCMS would look very, very different if it had originated in the executive or legislative branches.

  23. Thank you. I reread the LAO’s recommendations from 2004, and people in the Governor’s office and Legislature should take note (after 6 years, the same problems exist).

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis_2004/crim_justice/cj_06_0450_anl04.htm

  24. Special Prosecutor

    Can the Governor step in if there is ongoing and substantial financial risk to the state? I thought he was an action hero. This is the highlight of that LAO report from ’04:

    “State’s Financial Exposure Is Potentially Significant. At the time this analysis was prepared, AOC could not provide information on the total cost of the projects. According to AOC staff, to date it has spent $32.4 million on CARS and CCMS for project development contracts and implementation in one court. The total projected cost is unknown. Based on the AOC implementation plan, the IT systems will continue to be rolled out in 2004-05. However, AOC could not say how the projects will be funded in the 2004-05 Governor’s Budget, and in subsequent years. The AOC staff indicates that the projects will likely be funded by the General Fund and special funds. Although the AOC could not provide an estimate of the total cost of the projects, based on the information we have to date, we expect the projects could cost up to several tens of millions of dollars more. We believe the state’s financial exposure is potentially significant given the court IT process issues we identify in this analysis.”

  25. Special, the language for the other bill (introduced but not passed) is interesting. I can see why Deloitte wanted to kill it.

    AB 1579, as introduced, Lieber. Information technology goods and services: requests for proposals. Existing law sets forth the requirements for the acquisition of
    information technology goods and services by the state, and requires all contracts for the acquisition of those goods and services to be made by, or under the supervision of, the Department of General Services, with expenditures in this regard subject to the review and approval of the Department of Finance.
    This bill would require the Department of General Service to consult with the State Chief Information Officer in developing and drafting
    requests for proposals with regard to the acquisition of information technology goods and services. The bill would require the State Chief Information Officer to follow specified guidelines when reviewing the state’s requests for proposals for the acquisition of information
    technology goods and services.

  26. Claire Voyant

    AB 617 deleted the performance bond requirement for California vendors for 5 years. This provision goes into effect in 2013:

    “contractor is required to submit a faithful performance bond, acceptable to the department, in a sum not less than one-half of the total amount payable under the contract securing the faithful performance of the contract by the contractor.”

    Deloitte, or most insurance companies, did not want to have to come up with a performance bond to underwrite a large contract. Where did Deloitte have large contracts in California? It starts with an A and ends with a C.

  27. Special Prosecutor

    Exactly! Deloitte can wisely spend $16,000 to take care of their interests in the Legislature, but for a computer software system the company needs hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds. You gotta love the private sector taking advantage of government, unless you work in it.

  28. Claire Voyant

    And this is how Assemblyman Torrico describes it on his web page:

    AB 617 – Performance Bonds
    This bill would allow for competitive bidding contracts for state IT projects.

    It’s all a business win-win for everyone! Unless you are a court person who was laid off because “AOC leaders” decided throwing more good money after bad for CCMS was important. Or they will say the Judicial Council decided that action, but come on. Council members past and present have learned more truth about CCMS execution and Deloitte from this blog than they ever did sitting around the giant poker table in the boardroom.

    Make mine a double, honey. My eyes are getting tired again from seeing so much in plain sight.

  29. I hate to break it to you, but Deloitte Consulting donated $515,000 to the Cal Volunteers Program, a project dear to Arnold and Maria. All of these people are in bed with one another, including the Chief, and the greediest lovemaker in their passionate exchanges is Deloitte.

  30. The actions of the AOC with Deloitte Consulting are going to turn into another Oracle procurement scandal, and the Chief Justice has had months of warning. That scandal cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legislative hearings, created months of fighting between two branches, and ended up with firings and a canceled contract. The AOC is headed on this exact same course with the Legislature, unless someone steps in and stops it.