Judicial Wars: Chief Justice George Attacks Critics…Again

In a sign of just how far and just how dirty King Chief Justice George is willing to go in order to protect his beloved AOC and Judicial Council, he issued a thinly veiled attack on the Alliance of California Judges in a speech to the Legislature this past Tuesday.

In his “State of the Judiciary” speech to the legislature in which he gave a report of the state of California courts, King Justice George stated that the Legislature should only pay heed to the advice and counsel of the Judicial Council and the California Judges Association.

As you seek and receive input from California’s judiciary—the largest in the United States and, in the view of many across the nation, the finest—I urge you not to lose sight of the fact that it is the constitutional body, the Judicial Council of California, and its historic partner, the California Judges Association, the dues-supported voluntary organization representing more than 2,000 elected and retired judges and justices, that speak for California’s co-equal judicial branch of government even though these two entities may not always be in total agreement.

King Justice George then went on to say that any other group besides the two judiciary groups he mentioned were comprised of “strident and uninformed voices.” Here’s a quote from his speech.

The judiciary is not represented by the few strident and uninformed voices that occasionally emerge as e-mail strings on the fringe of the judiciary. Their efforts reflect nothing less than a thinly disguised agenda to dismantle the statewide administration of justice that all three branches of government have developed over the past several years. The vast majority of judges do not wish to engage in finger-pointing among individual courts and factions, and instead are prepared to remain fully accountable to you—the Legislature—and to the executive branch for the resources you allocate to the Judicial Council for the statewide administration of justice for the benefit of all Californians.

It’s absolutely disgraceful for King Justice George to claim that persons or groups that have a different opinion than the AOC’s and the Judicial Council’s are comprised of “strident and uninformed voices.” This is just part and parcel of what we’ve come to expect from the AOC and the Judicial Council.  Squelch all opposition and if they don’t shut up or tow the party line then tar them as a group of “strident and uninformed voices.”

Shame on you King or is it Emperor Justice George!  First, you don’t even have the cojones to name the group that you attacked before the legislators trying to make them out to be some group of crazies out to get big government.  Nothing could be more further than the truth and you know it.  The citizens of California, including judges, have EVERY right to ask questions of their elected officials and government bodies without fear of retribution or character assassination.  And the fact that you pulled this stunt before the Legislature only goes to prove how much the light of transparency needs to shine on the halls and cubicles of the AOC and the Judicial Council.

And then to add insult to injury you had the audacity to shake a boogie man before legislators by claiming that all critics of the AOC and the JC want to “dismantle the statewide administration of justice.”  I would hardly call what you and your cronies on the Judicial Council and your lapdogs in the AOC have done these past years “administration of justice.”  You know full well that this opposition is not to “dismantle the statewide administration of justice” as you claimed before the Legislature but to call for accountability and transparency.   Don’t the citizens of California have the right to know how their tax monies are being spent?  Don’t they have the right to demand better management from government agencies that run on their hard earned dollars?

I’ve said it many times before that people want to improve how things are done at the AOC and JC.  But obviously King Justice George you and yours would rather hole yourselves up behind the cold walls of your Death Star headquarters rather than listen to what you may believe to be lies, but what many acknowledge is truth.

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23 responses to “Judicial Wars: Chief Justice George Attacks Critics…Again

  1. The comments regarding the Chief Justice’s attack on his critics start in the last blog on” Legislative Committee Approves Audit of CCMS”. Please read comment 116 which is my respectful response to the Chief Justice’s unfounded and misplaced attack on the Alliance of Judges and others who disagree with him. Our great democracy was built on tolerating differing views and dissent . One must ask why can’t the Chief Justice of one of the largest court systems in the world respect in that?

  2. Paula J. Negley

    The Chief Justice can’t, or won’t, respect that lando because he has forgotten the duty that is owed.

    • Thank you Paula. The AOC has forgotten that it has a LEGAL obligation to protect its employees. That includes monitoring commentary here and responding to inaccuracies, which is why I assume “FlyOnTheWall” showed up (or, one can only HOPE that is the reason. 🙂 )

      • Hi Name Withheld. No, sorry to disappoint. I have nothing to do with the AOC. I’m a trial lawyer who practices in front of one of the 58 California trial courts and has an interest in branch governance.

        I have good friends who are rightly concerned about a Judicial Council that stifles debate, chooses expensive projects of dubious merit over real people, and generally seems to have made a mess of things. And I post for exactly the reason I indicated – I want to see this blog and the folks behind it continue to offer the strongest and best response to those problems. Inaccuracies, especially those that attack the personal motives of members of the Judicial Council, weaken the argument and leave the commentators here vulnerable to criticism. Besides, this is the group of folks who is always open to genuine and healthy debate. 🙂 If I said anything factually inaccurate in my posts I invite you to correct me. As for the opinion part, maybe we’ll just have to agree to respectfully disagree on the disclosure/disqualification issue.

      • I knew you were a lawyer and thank God. The issues of branch governance are extremely relevant, and this forum is as valuable as anything else of national prominence (California is the leader, after all). This is what the AOC does not seem to realize and has always struggled with … everyone from D.C. to Tokyo can open this page. What is the line between printed discourse here and a free press? Zero. There SHOULD be valuable and independent thinkers on this site. Thank you.

  3. It is difficult to come to this realization as we all hope for the best in people but the Chief’s last outburst suggests to me that he is totally out of touch with the needs of the public that the court system should be serving. I don’t come to this conclusion in haste or without a lot of thought but I think its time to suggest that the Chief should not be retained in this election cycle. If others here agree perhaps this can be the launching point for an organized effort to educate the voters of California about the Chief’s troubling policies, lack of tolerance of dissent and the need to end by positive democratic means the rule of total arrogance.

  4. Does the Chief Justice have both oars in the water?

    Has any Chief Justice ever gone to the Legislature as a union spokesman? Why is he supporting the construction unions? So, they will help him in his retention election? His remarks in this area mirror the statement made by Judge Mary Anne O’Malley and Bob Balgenorth, the head of the California construction unions, on 2/4/10 in which they said that the taxpayer should build courthouses, not because it would be of benefit to the taxpayer, but because it would be a benefit to the 300,000 construction workers who are out of work. Since when is the employment of union construction workers or for that matter, the employment of any worker be they Deputy Sheriffs, judges, clerks, or janitors be of concern to the Chief Justice if it is not for the Public benefit?

    Folks, what we have here is an ego driven 70 year old man who wants to leave some sort of a monument to himself regardless of who he throws under the bus.

    By supporting the construction unions and by not even considering using 1407 funds to keep the courts open he has not only deprived the public of access to the courts but he has guaranteed that many court workers will either lose their jobs or have a sharp reduction in pay. Thanks to the Chief Justice and Judge O’Malley he has involved the judicial branch in a labor dispute between the construction workers and the public sector workers. I believe none of the 53 judges who signed on with Judge O’Malley signed on to being involved in a labor dispute. 53 judges under the bus.

    He is determined to have a computer system that is going to cost the taxpayer at least 1.3 billion but probably closer to 1.7 billion when it is completed in, let us see, was that 2009? 2010? Nope. It looks like 2016. He is determined to have this system even if it results in court closures and the firing of court employees. Court employees under the bus.

    He appears to be determined to have his own police force to guard the courts even though the Sheriffs are doing a fine job. The Sheriffs under the bus.

    The courts have shortened their hours and have closed their doors to the public to fuel his need for a 900 plus person bureaucracy called the AOC, CCMS, and court construction. The AOC has doubled in size since 2004. The Public under the bus.

    He has given pay raises to senior staff of the AOC while not giving raises to the persons anyone else in the AOC. AOc workers under the bus.

    He has used taxpayer money to lobby against an audit of CCMS. If this was such an economical system and it worked so well for the money spent would he not welcome an audit?

    This speech is a fine example of an autocrat at work. He lectures the Legislature as if they were a bunch of unruly teenagers. He tells them to cease closing the courts when it was he who asked for them to be closed last summer. Not a word of sympathy for the difficult task facing the Legislature in the months ahead as they try to figure out how to run this state without enough money. He wants the Legislature to focus only on him and his pet projects and not consider all of the other citizens of state. Earth to the Chief Justice: the Legislature is not going to do this.

    Did you notice that he asked for continued taxes in his speech? Well, others certainly did. No suprise there as in remarks on October 10th of last year he said that he did not believe in the present initiative process in California because it makes for a “dysfunctional state government”
    Clearly what he means it that it is too hard to raise taxes. The bottom line is that he does not believe in democracy as presently practiced in California.

    His relationship with those who question him is interesting. He has eliminated democracy in the Judicial Council and he has caused people in the AOC who disagree with him to be fired.

    As to the ACJ: why not just call them the canaille? In this way he could show off his superior intellect and education.

    By the way, what did it cost the taxpayers to have members of the Judicial Council, justice partners, and stakeholders presentin Sacramento to listen to him talk? And who paid for the reception that he mentioned would take place after the speech?

    Good night from a shrill, uninformed, clownish, midnight blogger.

  5. Nathaniel Woodhull

    Excellent points by all those who have posted before this!

    Rather than engage in any form of constructive dialog, the Chief Justice has decided to debase himself by name calling and attempting to marginalize those who are not necessarily opposing him, simply asking honest and relevant operational questions.

    Those of us who have objectively studied the CCMS “system” can say that V2 and V3 cannot be integrated by V4. At this point no one can even get V2 to work at all. Yet, conversion and integration is “just around the corner.”

    For someone who gives lip service to concerns about providing the people of California with access to justice, I can think of no one who has done more to thwart access to the courts than the Chief. Yet he wants to call those who call his actions into question; shrill, uninformed and clownish.

    The Chief calls Judge McCoy “Chicken Little”. While I respectfully disagree with Judge McCoy’s attempt to divert SB1407 money to operations, I am not calling him any names. Presiding Judge McCoy is doing nothing more than looking for rationale methods of keeping the doors to his courts open. These actions don’t warrant the Chief’s boorish behavior and name calling.

    Increasing numbers of Legislators are finding the Chief’s act wearing a little thin. While it is easier for them to listen to one voice when dealing with the Judiciary than 58 voices from each of the counties, more of them on a daily basis are starting to question whether or not the voice they should listen to is that of the Chief.

    Sad to say, I believe Diogenes is correct. We have a 70-year old man who is desperate to claim a legacy as the savior of the Judicial Branch. The reality is, those of us who were around can say things worked well under the leadership of Malcolm Lucas and Donald Wright. There was a Judicial Branch long before Ronald George arrived and there will be one long after he is forgotten. Pehaps it is time for the man to graciously get off the stage while he still can.

  6. Real Party in Interest

    Has the Chief Justice ever elevated CJA in this way before? I can’t recall him ever making CJA coplanar with the Judicial Council, and part and parcel of the luxurious “one voice.” This is unusual for him to form such an alliance, unless he is feeling, um, lonely? Has CJA either endorsed the Chief Justice or the actions of the Council? I ask these questions because I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I have never seen CJA conflated with the “voice” of the Judicial Council.

  7. The Chief’s speech was very sad for any number of reasons. At best, it gave new and better credibility to the judges who are the ACJ. Think of it, he went before both houses of the Legislature and told them not to listen to a group of judges who most in that room knew nothing about. He put them on the map for the entire Legislature to see and he offended some present by telling the Legislature who they should listen to and who not.

    Further, at worst, he denigrated the office of Chief Justice and appeared petty and irritated (not to mention very nervous) before another branch of government. This is not how the Third Branch of government should be appearing, especially in a budget crises.

    Perhaps worse: The chief advocated on behalf of “the California construction industry and the men and women employed in the building trades.” He rated the SB1407 money as a form of homegrown stimulus which will help construction workers. He, in effect, declared war on the employees of the judiciary who are being furloughed, laid off and fired so that the Chief can build his buildings. He pitted one group of workers against another choosing to support the trade unions over his own employees.

    That speech was shameful and a shocking example of gross arrogance. More importantly, it was not well received here in Sacramento.

  8. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    These are all excellent posts. Having read the speech I interpret it as a universal attack on nearly everyone including the legislature. As diogenes has pointed out he’s tossed everyone under the bus while staking his own territory.

    I have nothing against the CJA but is the CJA truly buying what the chief is selling? It’s one thing to have the support of PJ’s and it’s another to have the unwaivering support of 90% of the judges in the state of california.

    There is no desire from anyone to create 58 different fiefdoms. What the chief has accomplished with the branch as a whole is admirable.

    However, some time ago, certain elements went astray and as they went astray he looked the other way and ignored those elements as if they never happened or are currently not happening.

    And then he has the audacity to ‘send a message to Sacramento’ about fully funding the judicial branch as opposed to looking at these very issues that went astray and fully funding the trial courts from these competing interests.

    Cutting last years budget had a lot to do with a computer program that has been “nearly finished” and “75% complete” “that close” and “just around the corner” for years and apparently this promise won’t be coming true any time soon.

    There are ample funds to keep the courts open. There are ways to ensure deloitte delivers a product that works in a timely manner. There is a method of still getting our buildings maintained without guaranteeing an unlicensed DOD contractor a 35% management premium.
    There is a way to build a courthouse at less than $1,000.00 per square foot.

    And in all of that prudent management of scarce public resources there are ample monies to keep the courts open every day they should be open.

  9. Be prepared for the next PR push/spin from the AOC and JC:

    “Because of the budget crisis we need to learn to do more with less. New facilities and CCMS will help us do that. We can’t continue to do business the same way.”

    The AOC will talk about how we all need to get behind them as they guide us into the 21st Century of judicial administration. If a few thousand trial court employees are laid off as part of the process, that is just the cost of the “service model for a new generation of justice” or “forward looking business paradigm for courts” or whatever catchphrase the consultant can come up with. Anyone who might ask questions will continue to be accused of wanting to see a return to the dark ages, or being “uninformed” “on the fringes of the system” or a malcontent.

  10. ViewFromOlympus

    Thanks to the efforts of two past Presidents of the CJA, James Mize and Terry Friedman, the CJA became a direct subsidiary of the AOC. Mize and Friedman introduced the policy of allowing Vickery and Overholt to attend the entirety of CJA Board Meetings. It got so back that Vickery was actually drafting the agendas. Board members were scared to voice opinions, because word got back to the Chief immediately and dissent was not condoned.
    The CJA lost all credibility with many judges and they have not been the “voice of the judiciary” for some time. Despite their protestations to the contrary, CJA doesn’t represent 97% of the judges. In the last decade they have become largely irrelevant, doing the bidding of the Chief and following his legislative agenda.
    Interestingly, Friedman’s reward by the Chief for his being a “good earner” was to put him on the Judicial Council as a trial court judge member. Only problem now, Friedman has “retired” from the Los Angeles Superior Court and yet he is still on the Judicial Council. Oh well, so much for following the rules.

  11. As I have thought about the CJ’s words more, it sure sounds like he is a man fighting for his life/job. Many of you have made excellent points to support that contention. Obviously, the man will do whatever it takes to save himself and his agenda.

    I think you have him running scared. Keep up the pressure guys.

  12. justacourtworker

    I think the CJ’s comments displayed his true colors for all to see.

  13. These comments on this blog since the Chief Justice made his unfortuate comments to the Legislature are most informative to the Legislature, the Press, the judges, and, of course, the Public. Judges must always keep in mind that they do not serve their own interests, nor the interests of a husband who might be running for for office, nor the interests of law enforcement, nor the interests of the construction unions, nor the interests of the public sector unions. The Public Good must be the loadstar. What this “Public Good” might be is something reasonable people can disagee about.

    I believe the problem with our Chief Justice is that he is unable to understand that good people who are just as intelligent and well educated as he, do not agree with him. He seems to be having difficulty in handling disagreements and as a result has called his critics various names such as ” shrill”, “uniformed”, and “Chicken Little”.
    He has forgotten that the Judicial Council is not a Court; he has forgotten that he must give respect to those below him. Here I am talking about calling Judge Lampe by the title of “Mister”. I admit this is a small thing but it is indicative of a larger problem with the deportment of the Chief Justice.

    I believe the Public is entitled to a robust discussion of how the Judicial Branch is to be funded and governed. I suggest the Chief Justice engage in this robust discussion with an open mind and without using language as I have described in the above paragraph.

    As some of you know I have been a judge since 1982. I have always been proud of my position and thankful to two Governors who have appointed me to be both a Municipal Court Judge and a Superior Court Judge. I never believed, until I read it, that the Chief Justice of the State of California would say what he said to the Legislature a few days ago.

    • Paula J. Negley

      You are not alone in this sentiment, Judge Maino. In the words of Thomas Paine, these are the times that try men’s souls.

  14. Amen TM

  15. Agree wholeheartedly with TM. I’ve worked with members of ACJ and I find the Chief’s personal attacks despicable. These are trial judges who have suffered the same voluntary pay cuts and increased workloads, and care just as deeply about the public the court serves. They’ve promoted access to justice for as long or longer than the Chief or the AOC. To see them called resource-hoarding, fiefdom-loving, shrill and uninformed members of the fringe is insulting. They deserve better.

    The KGO piece was right on and I hope they keep it coming.

  16. Thanks FlyOnThe Wall- You hit the nail on the head. As I see it the Alliance of Judges cares deeply about the future of our branch. What perhaps was most insulting is when the Chief claimed without basis that the leaders of the Alliance had never been concerned or involved in helping the public gain access to their courts.It is indeed ironic that the person primarily responsible for limiting access to the courts gets to make up that false claim. In another ironic twist, the only person appearing “shrill” or “strident” is the Chief who has decided that it is best to continue to attack his critics while now embracing the CJA, an organization that the Chief has spent years undermining and weakening and ultimately taking over. Thanks Olympus for your thoughtful comments regarding the history of CJA’s demise. Where all this breaks down is that there are lots of people spread around the judiciary, legislature and public that see the Chief for what he is and now question his flawed failed leadership and will not be bullied by him any longer.The house of cards the Chief has built is starting to fall in large measure due to his failed leadership and total arrogance.

  17. Thank you Judge Maino for your comments. Beyond the courts, many of us also have built our careers on public service, whether it be serving in the armed services, public interest law, serving on nonprofit boards, or volunteerism.

  18. These are all good comments. And like FlyOnTheWall, I have just been interested in getting things fixed. I have avoided and will continue to avoid any personal or political agendas against the CJ, the JC, the AOC, or anyone else involved in CCMS. And I have assumed mistakes rather than malfeasance in respect to CCMS. While I may be wrong, IMHO the reason the AOC and CJ have backed CCMS is that they have simply been given bad advice about technology. That advice probably came from people they thought were experts on the subject at stake but who in fact are not. Producing a system to make trial court records electronic and share them is relatively simple. But you have to turn to the right IT people, just like if your son was in jail charged with murder, you wouldn’t turn to a bankruptcy lawyer for advice. And you don’t ask your wife’s gynecologist for advice about stomach surgery.

  19. As I follow the California Courts budget crisis and the polite feud between the AOC and Tim McCoy I can’t help but think that the AOC is embarking upon a reckless social experiment. What would happen if the largest court system in California serving the country’s second largest city were to collapse and cease to function? Neither Ron George or the AOC have explained how closing eight courthouses, shuttering 180 courtrooms and firing 1800 court employees will have no discernable impact on day to day operations. I think it is obvious that such drastic cuts will cripple the Los Angeles Courts with an impact that will ripple through the economy of the County and the entire State. The reluctance of the AOC to divert funds from available sources to avert a crisis in Los Angeles isn’t an ignorant miscalculation, I believe it is intentional and part of an effort to force the Los Angeles Superior Court into insolventcy. The war of words and the claims of misplaced priorities by McCoy and George are merely a smokescreen to obscure the AOC effort to take over the local administration of the LA Courts by forcing the courts into bankruptcy. To what end? Free the LA Courts from all collective bargaining agreements saving millions in labor costs is one reason. Denying access to justice to the troublesome and reviled population of LA County is another. Ron George and the AOC know that when the LA courts tumble into a dysfunctional gridlock probate, family law, collections, evictions, small claims, traffic and criminal processing will grind to a stop. I think they want to sit on the sidelines and watch how the society responds before they finally move in and replace the current court administration with their own hand picked replacements.