It’s been interesting for me as I read the comments posted here on the blog and the emails that have been sent to me by people expressing their outrage, dismay, disappointment, and or shock at King Justice George’s speech before the legislature last week in which he attempted to label the over 200 judges in the Alliance of California Judges as a reactionary group of “strident and uninformed voices.” A quote from his speech to the Legislature last Tuesday.
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.
And although recent articles that have focused on the lobbying efforts by King Justice George and his AOC and JC minions to scuttle an audit of the CCMS program may indicate that this is new territory for the King Justice, I need only refer you back to 2006 when King Justice George gave a speech before the California Judges Association when he told the assembled judges that he would not brook any attempt by judges to undermine his appointment power.
In the Spring 2006 edition of California Courts Review in which King Justice George was featured.
The line between local and statewide concerns is subjective, of course, and George’s location of the proper boundary in not above criticism. Even some of his supporters were dismayed when the Chief Justice told a 2003 gathering of the California Judges Association-an organization he had headed 20 years earlier-that any attempt to democratize selection of Judicial Council members and reduce his appointment power would be considered a “declaration of war.”
And King Justice George must have had some sort of psychic vision way back in 2003 because what he said he wouldn’t abide then is exactly what’s happening now. Judges are speaking up about the way the Judicial Council conducts its business and how the members are appointed to the JC. From the KGO7 news piece that aired last Thursday.
Last month, Judge David Lampe from Kern County made a public appeal to the California Judicial Council to stop closing courthouses one day a month. It is a decision the council says it made because of the state’s budget crisis.
Lampe says his plea fell on deaf ears.
“I believe that a lot of judges felt they did not have a sufficient voice in the decision that closed our courts,” he said.
That decision was made by the 27 judges who sit on the judicial council. They make statewide policy and administer the multi-billion dollar budget for California’s courts. Members of the judicial council are appointed by the chief justice of the state supreme court, who also presides over its meetings. The council’s staff is called the AOC, short for Administrative Office of the Courts.
The court closures and employee furloughs have triggered an open revolt against the council by some of California’s 1,700 judges.
“A very insular, elite group of folks has run this branch for now 15 years or so,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles Horan.
That’s why, dear readers, you shouldn’t be surprised at King Justice George’s recent, and perhaps future, actions. The man basically said then that any form of opposition or dissent would be seen as a “declaration of war.” As the saying goes. All is fair in love and war. And all indications are King Justice George is willing to prove that old adage true.