The Governator released his May revised budget on Friday and he seems to have given the courts a wee bit more than they asked for. His budget calls for $3.43 billion for the courts. And though it may seem like that may answer everyone’s prayers, it doesn’t really. In fact all sides with an invested interest in how that money gets allocated have begun the fight with one of the main battlegrounds being the multi-billion court software program. As the Courthouse News Service tells it, both sides are fighting hard to get their viewpoints out in front to convince people how their respective sides are in the right, with their opposition in the wrong.
From the Courthouse News Service:
On the other side of the issue, some judges have gone to the legislature to sell the new computer system with a video presentation.
Judge Glen Reiser of Ventura County Superior Court, a long time advocate of the centralized computer sytem, met with members of the legislature last month to answer questions about the system called Court Case Management System. Reiser said that after presenting the video to legislators, “I got the impression that they were hugely receptive.”
Countering that position, trial judges in Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento argue that the benefits of the centralized computer system are outweighed by its $1.3 billion cost. One judge said the courts could have their own space shuttle for that kind of money.
Reiser answered that point by saying the new system will ultimately “save the courts tens of millions of dollars.”
“Change is threatening to some people,” Reiser added. “I love my colleagues to death, but the reason some people become judges is because they love tradition. Anytime you introduce new technology, there is going to be some push back. You have to look at the age of the judge and where they are on the technology curve.”
San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino answered back, saying it is not the technology he opposes, rather it is the projected cost.
“Judges routinely ask whether the benefits of a certain choice are outweighed by the costs,” he said. “In the case of the case management system, the answer is the very slender benefits do not outweigh the costs. The projected cost of the system is $1.3 billion — an amount that is nearly sufficient for the Administrative Office of the Courts to purchase its own space shuttle.”
Well, it may be true that the AOC could have spent that $1.3 billion to “purchase its own space shuttle” as Judge Maino so eloquently puts it. But could we even count on the AOC to know how to launch it? Or would they need to spend another $1.3 billion on software that “might” do that?