San Francisco Superior Court Lays Off Layoff Notices

San Francisco Superior Court employees got a bit of good news late this afternoon when current CEO Claire Williams sent out an email announcing that layoffs would not be happening. In fact, my followers of Themis in SF Superior tell me that the court planned on beginning on passing out layoff notices beginning tomorrow.

Here’s a bit from the email that Ms. Williams sent out.

Last week we received positive news on two fronts in Sacramento. On Friday Governor Schwarzenegger announced his revised budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The governor’s budget restored $100 million in state funding for the judicial branch. The other new budget information we have is that the AOC is close to wrapping up negotiations with key state lawmakers on a revenue package that would deliver $230 million to the judicial branch. Between the governor’s revised budget and the new judicial branch funding package from the legislature, we have enough confidence now in the proposals that leads us to the decision not to issue layoff notices as planned this week.

While it is true that the uncertainty over the ultimate outcome of these solutions remains, we are proceeding with the benefit of the best information available to us from the AOC. It is essential over the subsequent weeks that judicial branch leaders continue to work with the governor, state lawmakers, justice partners and other stakeholders to secure the passage of these funding solutions for the courts.

15 responses to “San Francisco Superior Court Lays Off Layoff Notices

  1. Concerned4U

    Attention Judges of California-

    If you are looking to retire anytime soon, it is important that you know that The Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Services Unit can no longer assist you in providing you Judges Retirement information. The unit is no longer equipped with or maintains qualified experienced employees to handle any questions or concerns regarding retirement estimates, calculations, and prior service buy backs, ESIP, Reciprocity issues etc. The unit that had previously provided these vital services for the last 8 years has all but vanished.
    As most of you know, Jim Niehaus (previous lead over the JSU) felt forced to retire from the AOC as of August of last year. He had been the lead over the JSU for some 8 years. However, in early summer of last year a new manager position was created, and Jeannine Seher was hired and assigned to oversee the unit; Hired mind you, during the beginning of the “HARD FREEZE”. Jeannine has no previous experience with judges, no JRS background, and in all actuality has no knowledge of any retirement or CalPERS experience at all. Let it also be known that in the very few months she has been there, she has single handedly ran all three very experienced and important employees out of AOC, in one way or another with her very unethical and toxic management style. She has been allowed by upper management to drive out 3 employees, who combined shared over 25 years judicial retirement experience, and who worked extremely well together as a team; a team that you no doubt came to really know and trust, and who had become your judicial confidants.
    You should also know that Jeannine Seher has hired at least two temps with no experience to replace the well qualified staff, temps who have received merely 2 hours of training from JRS on retirement matters, and who were also hired during the “Hard Freeze”. Coincidently or not so coincidently, these two temps knew and worked with Ms. Seher at her previous employer. It is obvious that there is no longer anyone who oversees “JSU” that has your best interest at heart, or they would not have let all three of their employees with the most experience be harassed, ridiculed and shoved out the door. They do not want you to know that there is no one left to advise, counsel or guide you into retirement. They instead want to create an illusion that it is “business as usual”, and if you were to call right now they would have to enlist the help of Judges Retirement System to answer your questions, as Ms. Seher and the 2 temps know just enough to make them dangerous.
    You have given California the best years of your life; you have provided our courts and the people of California with fair and impartial justice. You now deserve the most up to date, correct and concise information regarding your retirement needs. Jim Niehaus remains in the capacity to assist you. Helping the Judges and Justices of California is still his passion. You may contact him at California Judges Association @ 1-866-432-1252

  2. Wendy Darling

    If you happen to wonder who the current Division Director and Assistant Director of the AOC’s Judicial Services Unit is, why that would be the very same current Director and Assistant Director of the AOC’s HR Division, Ernesto Fuentes and Kenneth Couch.

    And FYI – those two temps hired by manager Seher in the Judicial Services Unit have access to all of the Judicial Branch judges personal information statewide.

  3. Actually, Concerned4U the AOC had developed what some AOC employees call the”instant expert” many many years ago. The “instant expert” is someone who is hired as in this case, after the veteran AOC employees leave in disgust. The poor newbie is now the “instant expert” and expected by management to magically know everything there is about everything in their new position. That is what makes the folks that run the AOC dangerous. They want to run the branch but know absolutely nothing about it. Court administrators have been complaining about this for years. Having to teach the newbie AOC employee how to do their job all the while they are telling you what to do. I am sorry to hear about Jim but I am glad he got picked up at CJA. Hopefully now that this change may impact the judges negatively, the judges will rise up in en masse to make an effective change.

    As to what occured in San Francisco, I am very concerned the CEO did not make it clearer to her employees that usually there are major changes between the Gov’s May revise and what the legislature signs off on. Those layoffs may just now occur in October rather than in June. Don’t forget Arnold is a lame duck….

    • >>Hopefully now that this change may impact the judges negatively, the judges will rise up in en masse to make an effective change. <<

      Yeah, somebody wake me when that happens. I wonder if membership in the ACJ has swelled recently.

  4. Ray O'Light

    Can this blog be generous and feature an update link to Cheryl Miller’s blog, or simply make her a permanent correspondent?

  5. Wendy Darling

    Published today, Wednesday, May 19th, in the Recorder:

    AOC To Pay Court Worker Who Blew Whistle
    The Recorder

    Jack Urquhart, who said he was forced to resign after telling reporters how much a Judicial Council conference cost, will receive about $33,000.

  6. Ray O'Light

    As always, the AOC exhibits the utmost in tastelessness on yet another day when the California courts are closed to the public:

    MAY 19, 2010 | LITIGATION

    AOC Settles Whistleblower Lawsuit

    By Amy Yarbrough
    Daily Journal Staff Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO – The Administrative Office of the Courts has settled a lawsuit with a former employee who says he was forced to retire after leaking the price tag of a costly judicial conference to the media.

    The agency has agreed to pay former senior court services analyst Jack Urquhart $50,000 to settle the lawsuit and $3,781.93 to cover the costs of a mediator, the agency announced Tuesday. In doing so, the agency denied Urquhart’s allegations and any wrongdoing.

    “We are pleased that this matter has been resolved amicably,” Mary Roberts, General Counsel for the AOC, said in written statement. “The AOC remains committed to the highest ethical standards of public service. We respect and value the unique talents that each of our employees contributes to advancing the Judicial Council’s goal of improving access to justice in California.”

    Urquhart’s attorney, Mary Hough, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    In his lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Jan. 2, Urquhart accused the agency of violating the California Whistleblower Protections and Fair Employment and Housing acts.

    According to the suit, Urquhart complained to his supervisors about spending on Judicial Council events and, after his concerns were ignored, faxed a summary of costs for its annual retreat to the media.

    Urquhart later admitted that he had leaked the information, and his boss Dianne Bolotte called him into a meeting during which she referred to him as a ‘sick, angry and emotionally distraught man,’ the suit alleged.

    Urquhart thought he would be fired but was instead called to the human resources department, where an employee was told to prepare his retirement papers, according to the suit.

    Philip Carrizosa said the agency had no comment on Uruqhart’s allegations.

  7. Ray O'Light

    PSA : don’t agree to let your lawyer take a case to mediation unless you know what you are getting into. Unfortunately, this is an argument against mediation and for a jury trial.

    OGC: how does your public comment comport with the agency “no comment” from Mr. Carrizosa? Has this settlement officially been entered in San Francisco Superior court and the case dismissed with a court order?

  8. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    “The AOC remains committed to the highest ethical standards of public service.”

    While I wish that were the case, the directors of the AOC need to determine the definition of an ethical standard.

    Paying someone off to drop an allegation that you forced them into retirement does not clean your hands, it just means you were not condemned by a jury of your peers.

  9. Ray O'Light

    I also don’t know what kind of world that Mary Roberts or Dianne Bolotte live in if they think this represents “access to justice.”

    They have, however, successfully misread the minds of a large percentage of registered voters in California. Perhaps that is the silver lining.

  10. JusticeCalifornia


    Here is what we do know from this article. The CJ, JC and AOC did NOT want to tangle with or make an example of Mr. Urquhart, notwithstanding their bluster, and they did NOT want this case to go to a jury trial, where members of the public (on the jury and in the media) would decide third-branch misconduct/whistleblower issues.

    As far as I can tell, the glass is 2/3 full, not half empty.

    Mr. Urquhart gave the AOC a great big, well deserved, public black eye, and he just got paid $50,000 to do it.

    Move forward, step by step.

    Document, document, document. And for those of you who can (to the extent you can, anonymously or otherwise, after examining your options, and personal beliefs and obligations), report, report, report, so no one can say they didn’t know.

  11. joshmadisonn

    “The AOC remains committed to the highest ethical standards of public service…”

    What a joke. As someone pointed out here previously, the AOC’s strategy with whistleblowers hasn’t changed: stall and starve them into submission. It’s common knowledge that Urquhart lost more than his job. He also lost his home (to foreclosure), his state, proximity to friends and family, and a way of life. And for what? For telling the truth, that’s what.

    A depressing “settlement” for those of us still serving at 455 Golden Gate.

    • JusticeCalifornia

      And Josh, the only antidote to this strategy is to get LOUDER.

      And I speak as one who has been on the very front lines for a very long time.

      And this is why, as one on the very front lines, and a student of the California Courts website and all the fascinating information thereon, I do believe that the elimination of judicial immunity will take place first in California.

      Mark my words. Eliminating judicial immunity will get the CA judiciary in line, at all levels, but quick. Right now the defense to allegations of judicial misconduct is “I have absolute judicial immunity, so sue me– hah hah”. Once judicial immunity is gone, the defense to judicial misconduct will be ” I followed the law”.

  12. Jack, Jack Jack I am so sorry to hear you lost your home. If you are reading this, just know that my thoughts are with you.

  13. PS Judge Dredd, what do you think about this as it relates to evil? I respect your comments and agree to disagree but comon, this really is bad….