Justice George started the New Year by sending out a letter reminding his judicial colleagues of how the evil of court closures was a necessary evil. In the letter he defended the Judicial Council’s decision to close the courts once a month.
Our action in closing the courts for four days in 2009 reflects the judicial branch’s recognition of the economic downturn that has affected all Californians in both the public and the private sectors. As inconvenient as these court closures have been to the public, to the bar, to our employees, and to all of us, they were a rational response, among the available alternatives, to the budget reductions in the current fiscal year, and have allowed some courts to avoid or minimize the layoffs that might otherwise have been necessary. AOC staff are preparing a report on the impact of the closures that will be presented at a special session of the Judicial Council on January 21.
He also discussed how the Voluntary Salary Waiver program, a program in which judicial officers gave up a portion of their salaries to honor the furloughs suffered by court employees, had become “an example for all of state government during the fiscal crisis.
During my meeting with the Governor just two weeks ago, he expressed his admiration for judges who are participating in the voluntarily (sic) salary waiver program or otherwise donating a portion of their salaries to assist in funding trial and appellate court operations. Through your personal sacrifices, you have set an example for all of state government.
No mention was made of how some judges opted not to participate in the VSW program and instead donated a share of their salary contributions to outside charities or creating funds of their own within their own counties to assist county court employees.
You can read the justice’s entire letter by clicking here.