AOC Settles Lawsuit with Whistleblower

The AOC appears to have settled a lawsuit brought against it by former AOC employee and whistleblower Jack Urquhart.

From the Daily Journal:

The Administrative Office of the Courts will pay more than $53,000 to settle a suit brought by a former employee who claimed he was forced out his job after alerting reporters to the costs of a 2009 judicial conference.

Jack Urquhart, who retired from his analyst job of 11 years in December 2009, will receive $33,782 to drop his lawsuit and to cover the costs of a private mediator, the AOC announced in a press release Tuesday. The AOC will also pay $20,000 to Urquhart’s lawyers with the San Francisco firm of Moss & Hough.

AOC Watcher readers will remember that Mr. Urquhart became a catalyst that inspired some of the most vocal opposition and criticism the AOC and Judicial Council has ever faced when he revealed to reporters of the $80,000 that the AOC spent for a Judicial Council conference in San Francisco last year. After being forced to resign for his actions, actions that many believe were honorable, Mr. Urquhart eventually filed a lawsuit against the AOC. The actions that AOC took against Urquhart inspired legislators to draw up legislation that will ensure that AOC and court employees are covered by current whistleblower laws. That legislation is still pending in Sacramento.

But anyone who thinks that settlement of the case means the AOC was in the wrong, would be surprised to know that the settlement “is not an admission of wrongdoing.”

The nine-page settlement document says the agreement is not an admission of wrongdoing by the AOC.

“We are pleased that this matter has been resolved amicably,” Mary Roberts, general counsel for the AOC, said in a prepared statement that was approved by both parties. “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.”

261 responses to “AOC Settles Lawsuit with Whistleblower

  1. oldtimer38

    All of a sudden we’re back to blogs about whistle blowers again. I guess everybody got tired of all CCMS all the time. If comments for the following LA story are right then our former co-worker got cents on the dollar for his loss of house home and livilihood. Maybe thats why the rest of us are scared stiff and why the AOC has become a hothouse of paranoia and gossip. I am living for retirement. Can’t come soon enough.

    • Judge_Dredd

      If Urquhart’s case was so rock-solid, why did he settle for “cents on the dollar?” Why not go through the discovery process and bring all of this supposed AOC malfeasance into the light in public court records? Could it possibly be that, gasp, there are two sides to the story?

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        Being starved into submission comes to mind.

        Not having whistleblower protections already enacted by the legislature comes to mind.

        The discovery process can take years. Explaining to a prospective employer that you got fired by the judicial branch for being a whistleblower and that you currently have an open lawsuit against your employer doesn’t do well for future employment prospects.

        In short there are dozens of reasons to settle the suit rather than subjecting yourself to the immeasurable stress of a government agency that plays dirty on the litigation turf by 1) not turning over evidence 2) Firing its employees that do turn over evidence under a federal judges orders. Besides, Mr. Urquhart was upset about the waste of taxpayer funds for one tiny little shindig and took it to the media.

        That pales in comparison to the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that were set on fire by CCMS, the unlicensed contractors debacle and court construction costs where people have taken their matter to lawmakers months before it ever hit the media and in all cases, these matters became news only because of the AOC’s reaction to them.

        You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to take on the largest court system in the free world. And if you do wake up one morning and make that decision because it is the duty that is owed, then every morning after that you wake up with a knot in your gut knowing that your opponent owns the venue.

        Sturgeon vs. L.A. county and the Supreme Courts refusal to hear the case and its subsequent direction to the AOC and Judicial Council to lobby for the passage of SBx211 in the dead of night is a perfect example of what happens when some elevate themselves beyond the reach of justice and is a sobering reminder that even if one is successful, they still lose.

        And if you happen to cry out against the injustice of it all, you get locked up in solitary confinement in one of america’s most dangerous jails for well over a year as a political prisoner of a justice system that simply wants you to keep your trap shut.

  2. JusticeCalifornia

    Well, for what it’s worth, top leadership seems to be scared stiff (or stupid?).

    As I have been reporting for awhile now, after the JLAC audit of the Marin family court was announced, court records have been altered and/or destroyed. Lucky for some of us, we documented, documented and documented, and reported, reported, reported, and now the court doesn’t know who has what, or who knows what, and is getting all tangled up.

    Call me an optimist, but I do think the feds will have to get involved at some point.

    Now the AOC is a big entity. A JLAC audit is commencing, right? And if top leadership in the AOC acts like Marin has, won’t there be a destruction and/or alteration of records?

    And correct me if I am wrong– isn’t it true that hours after it was announced that a JLAC audit was being requested with respect to 8 family courts, there was an unexplained major “computer” “power outage” meltdown at the SF State building that went on for days?

    Sure there was.

    People need to keep their eyes open and compare notes, and jog old memories, and get out and safeguard old files. And if any of you know about file destruction/alterations, perhaps an anonymous letter to the state auditor with an “x marks the spot” map would be in order. . . .

    Knowledge is power.

  3. Oldtimer38 I feel for you. If you believe in karma, I hope they get theirs and soon. Good luck to you and your collegues.

  4. Wendy Darling

    The 3 biggest lies:

    1. “The check is in the mail.”

    2. “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”

    3. “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.” (Formerly “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

  5. Judge Dredd, it is sad but unless Jack had a small fortune, he would not be able to fight the AOC with their attorney power and deep pockets. I know others who have tried and lost a lot in attempting to do so. Not to put words in Jack’s mouth, but I suspect after all that he lost already and the pain of going through this legal wrangling, he probably just gave up. I suspect to beat the AOC in court you would have to be another deep pocket public agency or a well off private business or individual.

  6. JusticeCalifornia

    Judge Dredd, you’re a litigator, right? You know darn well that the cost of a lawsuit against the AOC is prohibitive.

    Third-branch defense litigation is funded by the public. That is an open tab, baby. Cha Ching, cha ching, cha ching. Tell me if I am wrong.

    And by the way, does anyone know what that tab is, and how it is categorized in the judicial “budget” presented each year? That is a question that should be answered, because as proposed legislative fixes of the judicial branch (like third branch oversight measures) are shelved for lack of funds, I seriously doubt that the Big Ron is telling the legislature how much he spends on top spin doctors and legal defense for bad/corrupt/negligent/inept third branch behavior. I do believe it is a very big number.

    Talk is cheap. Calling out judicial corruption/mismanagement, at any level, is not. And it isn’t for the faint of heart.

    But let me make an interesting point.

    Throughout history, people have made thoughtful personal choices to do the right thing. Actually, often it isn’t a choice, it is just something a person knows he or she has to do. He or she is in the right place, at the right time, and, decides to “just do it” notwithstanding the consequences. If and when that person gets tired, someone else takes the baton and runs with it.

    And that, my friend, is the way positive change comes about—for all of us.

  7. JusticeCalifornia

    I did some interesting documenting and reporting yesterday. Let’s see what happens.

    The auditor is coming to the AOC soon right? Well, the auditor has seen some very bad behavior in connection with the Marin and Sacramento family court audits.

    Now there is a chance to expose top level corruption to the auditors when they come through the AOC. In my experience I have seen pattern in third branch corruption. It generally includes cronyism– you scratch my back, I will scratch yours. The back-scratching goes on at the expense of the public. Those getting their backs scratched are arrogant, and feel protected and untouchable. If anyone personally subject to third branch power (employees and litigants– sometimes even judges) reports or complains, they are retaliated against–quite brutally– and this includes financial harm, and /or personal humiliation and ridicule, and a reputation-smearing campaign so no one will believe the person reporting. Ultimately, many of those employees who know too much retire, are laid off, or fired.

    There is a constant high level covering up of the tracks going on, so no one will find out about the official plundering of the public coffers and trust– and here is the vulnerability, my friends. Top leadership simply cannot keep track of who knows what, or what was destroyed, or who knew about it, etc. And lots of public money is spent paying the bad actors, and then paying to protect the bad behavior of the bad actors.

    So here is the bottom line. Here is your chance to report to the auditor. If you don’t document, you have nothing solid to hand over when you report (although you can tell where the documents can be found, and hope they are still there). If you don’t report, you can’t say everyone knew, but didn’t do anything about it.

    If you have information and/or can document, but not report, perhaps you can give the info to someone who can. And if someone has info, and is afraid to report, but you are not, perhaps you can take the info and report it. And if you cannot do either, you can be quietly supportive of those who are documenting and reporting. You would be surprised how a little quiet help here and there makes a big difference.

    We all have to work together. I have often said, many of us who are documenting and reporting are not being paid to do it (although that would be nice– we are doing a public service) and many of those who are supposed to be documenting and reporting, and are paid to do so, are not doing their jobs. But if the third branch corruption is to be stopped, everyone has to do his or her part, to the extent he or she can.

    And by the way, that includes good, honest, ethical judges and administrators (and there are a lot of you out there), all the way up and down the line. Employees, litigants, and advocates should not be forced to do the heavy lifting, especially when the Code of Judicial Ethics requires ethical behavior of those in the judicial branch (judges and administration), and reporting of those in the branch who are not behaving in accordance with the Code. Right?

  8. Wendy Darling

    For those of you with access to Cal Law, published today, 5/25/2010, in The Recorder:

    Court Finds Ally in Spat with the AOC
    The Recorder

    The Alliance of California Judges says branch officials overstepped their authority when they ordered Sacramento Superior Court to maintain its connection with a new computer system server.

  9. Ray O'Light

    WD: 1 of 2

    May 25, 2010
    The Two Sides of Chief Justice George
    [Mike McKee]

    Jolly Ron George showed up at the California Supreme Court today. Then testy George made a brief appearance. But jolly George had the last word.

    The California chief justice opened oral arguments by noting that Justice Carol Corrigan was out sick and Justice Joyce Kennard was still recovering from surgery — and both would be viewing videotapes of the hearings later. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, he explained, had recused herself from the first case and would be replaced by Third District Presiding Justice Art Scotland.

    “So we’re back to a five-person, all-male court,” George announced jollily. Midway through the first case, though, George got irked when John Vail, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Litigation in Washington, D.C., kept talking over him as he tried to ask a question.

    “I’m trying to speak to you, counsel,” the chief said sharply. “Will you let me?”

    A chastened Vail shut up.

    Jolly George returned in the second argument when Los Angeles lawyer Dennis Moss was trying to assert that the state’s courts have more financial resources than administrative agencies, like the state Department of Industrial Relations.

    A smiling George — who’s been putting in long hours in Sacramento to save the courts’ budgets and is aware that all state courts are closed one day a month for savings — told Moss he wasn’t going to “take you on about the judicial resources” only because Moss’ time at the lectern was up.

    When Moss came back for rebuttal, he meekly apologized.

    “It wasn’t offensive,” the chief said to a rousing round of laughter from the courtroom. “It was just inaccurate.”

  10. Ray O'Light

    WD: 2 of 2

    May 25, 2010
    L.A. Lawyer’s Contempt of Court Confinement Continues
    [Cynthia Foster]

    Richard Fine, a Beverly Hills attorney who specializes in a kind of taxpayer advocacy, has been detained for over a year for being in contempt of court. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Yaffe jailed him for refusing to disclose pertinent information about his personal finances when he was ordered to pay sanctions and fines relating to a case in Yaffe’s courtroom.

    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Fine’s petition to end his confinement. Fine has filed habeas corpus petitions, from his jail cell, at the district, Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court level. Fine alleges that Yaffe is biased against him because of his work on advocating against judicial perks.

    According to the LAT, Fine intends to continue his battle, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to take up his petition “effectively [puts] an end to his dogged legal quest.” Fine was disbarred by the California Supreme Court last year.

  11. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    The last story I don’t believe is accurate as Mr. Fine has a pending petition for writ of certiorari still on file at the USSC as well as this action requesting his immediate release. I recall the SC only addressing the latter.

  12. JusticeCalifornia

    Fine has been jailed for 15 months for refusing to turn over information about his personal finances, which order was made by a judge he (along with a lot of other people) believes had no business hearing his case.

    Judicial Council member (and Marin Court Executive Officer) Kim Turner has reportedly ordered the destruction of court records pertinent to the legislative audit of the Marin Family Court — which audit is being done to ensure the safety of Marin’s families and children.

    Now, if one were to make the punishment fit the crime. . . .and treat everyone fairly. . . .suppose Turner (alone or in consultation with others) did order the destruction of pertinent/incriminating court records, and those orders were followed, what should the punishment be, seeing as how Fine has been in solitary confinement for 15 months?

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Extraordinary renditions of non-citizens aside, can anyone recall anyone in the past 30+ years where anyone spent 15 months in jail for contempt? Can anyone name just one similar case?

      • Wendy Darling

        Well in Russia, China, Iran, and a few other places it happens every day and is widely practiced by those governments. Apparently, the current leadership of the California Judicial Branch has decided to follow their example.

    • Wendy Darling

      “Now, if one were to make the punishment fit the crime. . . .and treat everyone fairly. . . .suppose Turner (alone or in consultation with others) did order the destruction of pertinent/incriminating court records, and those orders were followed, what should the punishment be …?”

      Well, in a world where the executive leadership of the California Judicial Branch would be required to obey the law, not violate the public trust, act ethically, and be held accountable, the appropriate punishment would be an arrest, followed by a jury trial, and then incarceration.

      That make believe world however doesn’t exist, and in the real world of the current California Judicial Branch and the AOC, she’ll probably be promoted, get a double digit pay raise, put on an AOC advisory committee for CCMS, and have a couple of awards presented to her by the Chief Justice and Bill Vickrey for her “service to the people of the State of California.

  13. Ray O'Light

    If people are destroying public records, it is a crime. By the way, I did some simple math:

    Sheila Calabro – failed leadership due to bankrupt project (CCMS)

    Jody Patel – failed leadership due to bankrupt project (Phoenix)

    Chris Patton – failed leadership due to very expensive “impartial courts” report that contains recommendations that are not in alignment with recent views that have been expressed by Justice Chin in the press.

    Combined cost to taxpayers for these 3 employees: roughly $600,000 per year in salary, plus regional staff, office space rental, and benefits, adding up to millions of dollars per year.

    If any court in California wants to hire one of these three lucky charms, speak now or forever hold your peace.

    • Wendy Darling

      Speaking of failed leadership …

      It seems that Manager Seher of the Judicial Services Unit has magically disappeared and apparently won’t be coming back; the cover story is that she is on “jury duty” but supposedly she has abruptly resigned.

      That would leave the two temp employees Seher hired, who have had a whopping 2 hours of “training” regarding judicial retirements, running the JSU with “oversight” of the JSU being provided by … the current Director and Assistant Director of AOC’s HR Division: Ernesto Fuentes and Kenneth Couch.

    • Wendy Darling

      Speaking of failed leadership …

      It seems that Manager Seher of the Judicial Services Unit has magically disappeared and won’t be coming back. Apparently she has abruptly resigned.

      And that would leave the two temps that Seher hired, who have had a whopping 2 hours of training on judicial retirements, running the JSU with oversight provided by the current Director and Assistant Director of AOC’s HR Division.

      And yes, that would be the very same Ernesto Fuentes and Kenneth Couch.

      And despite the “hard hiring freeze”, it seems that Director Fuentes has some promotions planned for certain loyal followers in the HR Division.

      • JusticeCalifornia

        Wendy, thank you thank you. Here is how a little shared information can lead to recognizable patterns of behavior and a traceable trail.

        Marin Family Court Services supervisor Leo Terbeiten retired abruptly last December, just after important (and potentially incriminating) mediation records were reportedly destroyed– and he has been replaced by Marin HR manager Scott Beseda. When questioned about why an outside skilled family court mediation professional has not been brought in, especially in light of the controversy going on about mediation misconduct, the explanation was that this was a cost-cutting measure.

        Yes. Sure. Like forcing AVAILABLE Marin court reporters to sit in their offices instead of in Marin courtrooms, and refusing to turn on the AVAILABLE electronic recording devices. Litigants are now told they can have a minute order to “memorialize” the proceedings–but oh yeah, in Marin we just had that problem with altered minute orders.

        Like I said. . . .the covering of the tracks. . .

        Now let’s bring this back to the AOC, and the location of incriminating information about judges and taxpayer money.

        Isn’t the Assigned Judges Program part of the Judicial Services Division?

        Someone ought to check out how many retired assigned judges — and who– and where– and at what cost– are sitting as unelected, unappointed judges — pretty much subject only to oversight by the Assigned Judges program. They get hefty salaries, too, and I hear that in some places, these lucrative “temporary” assignments — with no effective oversight– go on and on and on– for years. The Chief gets to decide who is on or off the list. . .

        Oh wait–here are some stats. . .

        Click to access Assigned_Judges_Program.pdf

        Woo hoo, 385 retired assigned judges. . . .neither elected nor appointed, but rather hand-picked by a single judge. . .If they cross that judge, they can be crossed off the list, or simply not be re-assigned, right? Yes, there are performance evaluations by the county PJ (supposedly), and there is a complaint process (supposedly), but Big Ron has the final say. Geez, that’s a small army, and big lobbying group. General George. . .one judge choosing and doling out 385 retired sitting judges. Imagine the power to strategically place certain people, for certain assignments and/or cases. Mind-boggling, really. And that’s just retired judges— Hey! I wonder if those performance evaluations and complaints are intact there in the Judicial Services Division, or if they have been “cleansed” like certain Marin files. . .

        Interestingly, I myself have some interesting e-mail communication with the Assigned Judges Program. I saved the e-mails, and reported, to a lot of people– about the fact that I was told top leadership hasn’t kept very good records – and so can’t really accurately report—about how many 170.1’s and 170.6’s are filed in each court, and against whom.

        Think about it. Connect the dots. And, I suppose, follow not just the money, but also the complaint files — and who is in charge of them.

  14. Ray O'Light

    Mr. Fuentes is both stupid and not very careful.

    Hypothetically, individual AOC employees might start retaining their own employment law attorney. Perhaps they have already consulted with an attorney, or they have dozens of friends who are attorneys and will represent them pro bono. Jack Urquhart may have been a whipping boy for the tiny tyrant Dianne Bolotte, who was given a chance to relocate him, but I can verify that other AOC employees will not play along with her, HR, or any other system that is unfair, illegal or out of federal compliance.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      A little background on Mr. Fuentes would cause any party to question why the AOC hired him in the first place.

      The man has left a wake of litigation in his tracks spanning over the past 18 years.

      When the highlight of ones distinguished professional career include Inspector General of the Los Angeles Regional Transit Authority at its most tumultuous time in history and one stands accused of intimidating and threatening witnesses and employees alike and is the subject of a 2nd district court of appeals decision that indicated he fired his own inspectors for calling him out for intimidating witnesses, this is not a person who should be heading up an HR department for the Judicial Branch.

      As far as employment lawyers go, the firm of Moss and Hough’s Mary Pat Hough located in San Francisco has represented a number of AOC employees and has quite the background on the AOC’s practices.

      The law firm of Hersh & Hersh, whose offices are only one block away from the AOC in Opera Plaza is also representing AOC employees.

      If anyone knows other legal resources for AOC employees, say, in the Sacramento (NCRO) or Southern California (SRO) area feel free to tell AOC employees about them by posting them here.

      As oldtimer38 pointed out, AOC employees are scared stiff to tell the truth because there is no one to tell the truth to.

  15. JusticeCalifornia

    Wendy, thank you thank you. Here is how a little shared information can lead to recognizable patterns of behavior and a traceable trail.

    Marin Family Court Services supervisor Leo Terbeiten retired abruptly last December, just after important (and potentially incriminating) mediation records were reportedly destroyed– and he has been replaced by Marin HR manager Scott Beseda. When questioned about why an outside skilled family court mediation professional has not been brought in, especially in light of the controversy going on about mediation misconduct, the explanation was that this was a cost-cutting measure.

    Yes. Sure. Like forcing AVAILABLE Marin court reporters to sit in their offices instead of in Marin courtrooms, and refusing to turn on the AVAILABLE electronic recording devices. Litigants are now told they can have a minute order to “memorialize” the proceedings–but oh yeah, in Marin we just had that problem with altered minute orders.

    Like I said. . . .the covering of the tracks. . .

    Now let’s bring this back to the AOC, and the location of incriminating information about judges and taxpayer money.

    Isn’t the Assigned Judges Program part of the Judicial Services Division?

    Someone ought to check out how many retired assigned judges — and who– and where– and at what cost– are sitting as unelected, unappointed judges — pretty much subject only to oversight by the Assigned Judges program. They get hefty salaries, too, and I hear that in some places, these lucrative “temporary” assignments — with no effective oversight– go on and on and on– for years. The Chief gets to decide who is on or off the list. . .

    Oh wait–here are some stats. . .

    Click to access Assigned_Judges_Program.pdf

    Woo hoo, 385 retired assigned judges. . . .neither elected nor appointed, but rather hand-picked by a single judge. . .If they cross that judge, they can be crossed off the list, or simply not be re-assigned, right? Yes, there are performance evaluations by the county PJ (supposedly), and there is a complaint process (supposedly), but Big Ron has the final say. Geez, that’s a small army, and big lobbying group. General George. . .one judge choosing and doling out 385 retired sitting judges. Imagine the power to strategically place certain people, for certain assignments and/or cases. Mind-boggling, really. And that’s just retired judges— Hey! I wonder if those performance evaluations and complaints are intact there in the Judicial Services Division, or if they have been “cleansed” like certain Marin files. . .

    Interestingly, I myself have some interesting e-mail communication with the Assigned Judges Program. I saved the e-mails, and reported, to a lot of people– about the fact that I was told top leadership hasn’t kept very good records – and so can’t really accurately report—about how many 170.1’s and 170.6’s are filed in each court, and against whom.

    Think about it. Connect the dots. And, I suppose, follow not just the money, but also the complaint files.

  16. JusticeCalifornia

    So I just wonder how much a retired CA judge who is assigned out full time makes?

    It appears they get their CalPERS retirement pay and health benefits AND
    92% of a current judge’s salary. . . . .and aren’t California judges some of the highest paid in the nation? Oh wait, our trial, appellate and supreme court justices are the HIGHEST paid in the nation (without additional county benefits)—check it out:

    Wouldn’t that potentially make certain assigned judges the highest paid judges in the nation – paid for by the CA public (as opposed to serving as private judges)? Like, $300,000-plus per year?

    And Ron George decides who gets and keeps these jobs?

    I am just pondering the magnitude of this.. . .

    • Wendy Darling

      As the saying goes … Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, well, you know the rest.

    • JusticeCalifornia

      Question: if judges want to continue judging in superior courts (as opposed to private judging), why do they retire?


      a) Because they knew or feared they would not win the next upcoming retention election, and/or

      b) So the Governor could appoint the next judge, before the next retention election, and/or

      c) Well, why not? They can retire, collect their hefty retirement benefits, and then become an assigned judge, and collect their retirement benefits, and 92% of a superior court judge’s salary too– all courtesy of the public, and/or

      d) all of the above.

  17. The assigned judges program has been a dibacle for years! Many times, judges don’t want to take on additional work (or do a particular type of work/calendar)when one of their collegues go on vacation, at a training, is ill or whatever, so assigned judges come in. Of course at a huge cost.
    And do PJ’s complain about assigned judges? Not very often in my experience. Most judges don’t want to dis a collegue. I have seen retired judges who are near deaf, near blind, and near senile still working.
    At the AOC level, in the 90’s it took Bill V over 3 years to approve rules and procedures for assigned judges regarding travel, assignments, etc. Oh they were prepared by staff, but they sat on Bill’s desk for 3 years. The assigned judge’s program has never been funded fully…it is just too expensive! If the branch was really serious about cost cutting they would take a close look at this program. I have seen judges doing nothing in chambers while assigned judges are brought in for the above reasons. Talk about a pork barrel program!

    • Tony Maino

      Dear Courtflea:

      I have been doing this for 28 years and I do not agree with your comment that the assigned judges program is a debacle. My experience is that almost all of the judges I have seen in this program are excellent.

      I do remember one assigned judge who was well past his prime but he lasted only a week and never returned to any court. That was certainly the exception.

      If it took Mr. Vickrey over three years to approve rules and procedures for the assigned judges program that is (another) bit of mismanagement by the AOC and has nothing to do with the quality of the judges in the program.

  18. Ray O'Light

    I am belatedly catching up on press, but is it accurate that CJA will decide on Thursday whether to support the Judicial Council’s internal Executive & Planning Committe over the Superior Court of Sacramento regarding who has authority over local court operations?

    I don’t know if anyone is doing any polling of the bench, but I can tell you my opinion: I would rather hang my panties out to dry on the California constitution over a rule of court any day of the week (and the rule cited for authority was adopted in 2009 without any public discussion or opportunity for judicial branch members to comments in 2009).

    You be the judge, it’s your job.

  19. The CJA meeting is for the executive board. Not exactly sure of how the issue will be framed, but it will be difficult for the board to remain neutral. The ACJ has asked the CJA to finally take a position on an issue that has been the 800 lbs. gorilla in the room for 10 years – to what extent can the AOC/JC exercise control over the operations of a local trial court. This is an issue that goes well beyond whether Sacramento needs JC approval before it can bring CCMS in-house to run on its local network.

    I am sure many judges, particularly those that feel it is important to “speak with one voice” and support the CJ, are feeling very uncomfortable right now. The law appears to clearly favor local control. E&P’s interpretation of the Constitution is questionable, to say the least.

    I think when push comes to shove (and it appears it has), the judges will do the right thing. Everday these judges have to put aside their personal feelings and follow the law. I have faith the CJA Executive Board will look at the facts andconclude the JC/E&P lacks the authority to direct a trial court it cannot carry out the executive decisions of the PJ.

  20. Ray O'Light

    On another note regarding funding:


    “JFI and JPM have provided services to AOC under the Contract and submitted invoices in excess of approximately twenty-two million dollars ($22,000,000). However, AOC has unjustifiably refused to pay JPM for all of the services rendered between August and November 2009. To date, JPM’s unpaid invoices total at least four million five hundred thousand dollars ($4,500,000.00).”

    What funding is going to cover this amount of money if these cases go before a jury? Unlike Mr. Urquhart, this is not a case where people will throw in the towell. I imagine Aleut feels the same way. Do you know how much a court could benefit from that amount of money? Maybe to fix toilets or something? Geez.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Contemplate it in these terms:

      These invoices submitted by JFI, JPM and AGS were false claims against the state. They had no legal right to invoice the state if they had no contractors license. They had no legal right to be awarded the contracts if they had no license.

      However, someone at the AOC/JC is sheparding the case against these entities in a manner that will result in a “kaiser construction” decision (simple oversight means the state has no claim) vs. what the ultimate decison should be (MW erectors) This get out of liability free card is being orchestrated by the AOC under the guise of filing suit against JFI/JPM by instructing all of its employees to never mention the name “Team Jacobs” again. This is official AOC policy handed down from management.

      So the question remains: Who is on the take?

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        Or how about in these terms:

        Michael Paul asked for permission to pursue 117 million dollars in savings to the branch. That request was denied. In its stead, the AOC requested the AG’s office to pursue the unlicensed contractors for 39 million dollars and is undermining their own case in numerous ways, including extending their contracts and playing “mum” on the term “Team Jacobs” so that a Kaiser construction decision is rendered as opposed to an MW erectors decision (you must pay all the money back)

        There is no mention of Team Jacobs in the lawsuit. This is intentional. Team Jacobs is and always was a unlicensed joint venture of Jacobs Engineering Group and American Building Maintenence. If such a ruling should come down that they were an unlicensed joint venture, then the logical extension of that is an MW erectors decision. (they must pay all the money back) However, by simply stating that a big company let their license lapse, then the logical conclusion of that is Kaiser Construction (a big company can’t be expected to keep track of its licensure – the state has no claim)

      • Ray O'Light

        I never recommend gambling via the courts. At some point, another party can file suit to intervene, or a jury will fuck you in the ass (pardon my French) and give you a judgement that surprises you (for example, a decision that is very unfavorable to the JC-AOC). Who at the AOC supervises the litigation if the A.G. is filing on behalf of the AOC? Good luck with this one, General Counsel Mary Roberts.

  21. Ray O'Light

    PS Obi:

    What was the legal authority that Bob Emerson gave for the AOC being exempt from the CA public contracting code? Not his opinion, but what was the legal authority that he cited?

  22. Ray O'Light

    And if the answer is “none,” he has single-handedly screwed the pooch for the AOC. Every judge in the state knows this to be a fact and would have to rule so.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, Ray O’Light,

      As the employees of the AOC know all too well,
      laws and rules don’t apply to kings and tyrants. Especially laws and rules that are inconvenient or obstruct the desire and ability of kings and tyrants of absolute rule without accountability. For kings and tyrants, laws and rules exist only to humiliate, punish, and condemn those who oppose them.

      And pretty much every judge in the state knows this about the current Chief Justice and the AOC as well.

      • Ray O'Light

        Thank goodness. Because one can only hope more than one judge (have the cases been combined yet?) will have a chance instruct a jury on their duty to determine the difference between right and wrong. The public and the press will find it quite fascinating. But if there is interest on over $4.5 million or more, plus damages … the public will not be so enamored. The longer it drags out, the higher the interest, Justice George and Justice Chin.

  23. Obi-Wan Kenobi


  24. JusticeCalifornia

    I wonder how discovery is going in these contract cases– I wonder if the AOC is going to comply, or if the shredding machines are going full time while the lawyers stall and play defense.

    I have now seen the smoking gun showing that the Marin family court has indeed purposefully destroyed important family court records relevant to the audit, after the audit was announced. The extent of the destruction is not yet known. If the court destroyed one category of records relevant to determination of systemic abuse, you know they destroyed or altered other categories as well.

    And this was the court that said “go ahead, audit us, we have nothing to hide, check out our best practices, I am sure we will come out smelling like a rose”. There is a smell around that court, all right, and it has been around for decades. But it ain’t roses.

    It would appear that the Marin court has thus far taken steps to control the results of the audit, by controlling the information provided — and not provided. According to the smoking gun, Marin Court Executive Officer Kim Turner gave the orders to destroy records. Turner was handpicked by Ron George for appointment to the Judicial Council last year, as the JLAC audit issue was pending. She was selected by George although (or because?) he and the AOC knew from an AOC report that she had signed off on improper expenditures of former Marin Court Executive Officer John Montgomery (whom she has described as her “friend and boss extraordinaire”), before Montgomery was arrested on 10 felony counts of conflict of interest. Turner remains on the Council, and she remains in charge of the Marin court, and the records in the Marin court. And the AOC is providing lawyers for her, at taxpayer expense.

    Reminds me of a funny comment on one of the blogs:

    “The fox is investigating the fox for the damage to the chicken wire. It’s thought the chickens became impaled on that wire and ate each other to escape. We will continue to follow this story as new information is available”.

    But this is not at all funny:

    The public is not seeing any meaningful third branch movement toward implementation of measures designed to provide accountability and oversight of the third branch. In fact, it is seeing more blatant corruption than ever before, as top leadership scrambles to do whatever is necessary – legal or otherwise–to cover up the terrible and irreparable harm that has been done to the public – at the public expense. This crisis has been compared to the Catholic Church pedophile scandal—and at this point I do not think that is an exaggeration.

    As for me. . .seeing as how top leadership is actively facilitating and protecting court corruption (and apparently criminal acts, like obstruction of justice), rather than taking any steps whatsoever to implement accountability and oversight measures. . ..and seeing as how many up and down the branch (including at the appellate level) are either actively participating in the corruption, or simply turning a blind eye to it. . . .

    I am going to continue to document, connect the dots, spread the word, and investigate the best way to eliminate judicial immunity in California. And I am not alone.

  25. Ray O'Light

    You are not alone. June will bring more revelations of fraud. The Supreme Court is now worried about the AOC.

    • Wendy Darling

      “You are not alone. June will bring more revelations of fraud. The Supreme Court is now worried about the AOC.”

      “More revelations of fraud” … “more” revelations of fraud. How could anyone need more revelations of fraud at this point? One would think that any fraud should have been sufficient, especially since this is the Judicial Branch of State government.

      And the Supreme Court is “now worried about the AOC.” Now, now, they’re worried? Again, one would have thought that embezzlements of public funds that go unreported, unprosecuted, and hushed up; double digit pay raises and promotions to selected minions in the midst of the worst State budget crisis in history; monthly court closures; addressing duly elected judges with profanity in Judicial Council meetings; unlicensed contractors being used in violation of State law; the unexplainable and out of control costs on a massive computer public works project ; and retaliation against AOC whistle blowers, just to name a few things, would have had the Supreme Court “worried about the AOC” before this point.

      But, no. Now they’re worried. If that just doesn’t say it all.

  26. June will be interesting. Diogenes believes that the wheels are comming off of the JC/AOC.

    Meg and Jerry: They will both win. Jerry knows as much about computers as the novice shopper at Fry’s. But he does have a nose for a phony people and situations. Omerta believes he has seen the pictures of the Chief Justice at the “masked ball” and he is aghast. Should Jerry ever take a trip to 2255 North Ontario Street in Burbank and see the Southern Regional Office of the AOC he will be aghast again. Remember that this is a Zen-Catholic who drove a Plymouth as Governor. He does not take kindly to this type of party or to lavish government buildings. Meg did not become a billionaire without knowing about complicated computer systems. She knows that no sensible private company would ever agree to allow Deloitte to do anything. Omerta believes that both Jerry and Meg will contact, amongst others, IBM,Red Hat,HP,SAP,Computer Associates, Adobe or Oracle and ask them why CCMS is going to cost the taxpayer about $1,000,000.00 a courtroom. CCMS will be an issue in the November election. The only question is who will raise it first: Jerry or Meg.

    Waste will come up in June. There is going to be an article and/or a TV program about the money the AOC has wasted on courtroom repairs. There will be a logical leap from this waste that the AOC will waste money on courtroom construction. The Legislature will start to consider placing restrictions on the AOC spending money on courthouse construction until there has been a review of what they are doing.

    Gifts will be another issue in June. Sometime in June or July the AOC will have to explain to the taxpayer what gifts they have received and how they have spent the money. Even if everything is copacetic the press, the taxpayers, and the Legislature will ask why gifts were received in 2002 but not reported until 2010. No Legislator can delay reporting a gift for 8 years and they will wonder why the AOC has been allowed to do so.

    The Legislature still has not received all of the information they requested from the AOC in October of 2009. They, Democrat and Republican, are in a foul mood. You will see how foul this mood is during the budget hearings.

    The AOC has placed a lot of confidence in the OCIO report on CCMS. People who have actually read this report know it is very critical of the AOC but that the conclusion gave the AOC a pass. Another report from a different agency is on its way and there will be no pass.
    Diogenes believes the spin doctors of the AOC are already working to blunt the findings in this new report.

    Good and dedicated employees of the AOC are going to start blowing the whistle. They will not do this as Jack did but they will leak to the press.
    These AOC employees are in a more foul mood than the Legislature if such is possible.

    Finally, the Chief Justice, his minions, and the few members of the Judicial Council who still have the capacity to think and see reality will come to the conclusion that the AOC is a rogue agency that has acted without their permission. Where this realization will lead is unknown.

    Diogenes will check in after July 4th to see how much of the above has come to pass.

    • JusticeCalifornia


      I think you are wrong about one thing– I believe Ron George is (and should be) intimately familiar with everything that has been and is going on in the third branch — including AOC and trial court “rogue” practices. — and for years George has been the grand (and very charismatic) orchestrator /protector of everything that we are seeing in the third branch right now.

      Ron, correct me if I am wrong. Or send in your PR people to do so, at their peril.

      Hello Lynn Holton (knowing what you know), and other spinmeisters. Who a) employs you (the judicial branch) and b) pays you (the taxpaying public) ? And, as state employees (that is what you are, right?) what have you done to serve the taxpayers (as opposed to your third branch employers) lately?

    • Ray O'Light


      A rumor is circulating throughout the state that John Larson and Dianne Bolotte committed fraud. Add it to your checklist and I also will check in after July 4.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        If they did you can rest assured a promotion is in their future. Or how about a position on the citizens redistricting commission?

        Click to access 12047.pdf

      • Ray O'Light

        This rumor is traveling faster than I knew. Ask Mr. Kann why his title is missing. Ask Mr. Vickrey if he approves of Dianne Bolotte using agency letterhead in this way. Finally, ask the Chief Justice if he knows about California Penal Code section 115.


        Kamala Harris knows this section, and I would imagine the D.A. in Sacramento knows about it as well.

      • Judge_Dredd

        Ray, I’d like you to consider, for one moment, that those are actual people you’re slandering. I don’t know either of them, but even if you think you have a beef with them, do you really feel good about yourself slandering them behind a pseudonym on a blog? Would you ever say such things to them if you met them face-to-face? I doubt it. Unlike the Chief Justice or the elected judges, they are NOT public officials, they’re just state employees trying to do a job. Ray, for the future’s sake, I hope you don’t have kids. I hate to think about the lessons you may be teaching them about how to be a member of society.

      • Ray O'Light

        And I would hate to think, Dredd Thing, that you teach your children (or your employees) that it is ever acceptable to forge state agency documents. Stop making excuses for fraud.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        Dear Dredd,

        1. Everyone who works at the AOC is a public official or public servant by virtue of being on the public payroll – not just those that are elected.

        2. If such a person is derelect in their public role, the media would call them on it. You hear about DMV personnel arrests frequently.

        3. If there are accusations or pending accusations of actual fraud that have some evidence accompanying them then this is not slander. I can’t claim I am privy to the rumor of fraud that ray o’light mentions. My purpose for pointing out the application endorsement was that I came across it in my daily googling and found it …. curious.

        4. Your timing Judge_Dredd is … interesting . It is as if you’ve agreed with the large amount of previous personnel assessments.

      • Ray O'Light

        Well said Obi. If someone from the Govenor’s office or Legislature altered agency letterhead for a document that was clearly going to become a public record, it would be grounds for termination. But in this instance, the California Supreme Court, the San Francisco D.A., and the Sacramento D.A. will all be notified by the end of the week. They can individually or collectively make a determination regarding the best course of action.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        I’m told these are based on a standard AOC Microsoft word template, not a letterhead. Mr. Kann’s title is detectable fragmentation at the top positions. Its apparent that the date column in the body is infringing on the header in a sized to fit manner. The computer gurus doubt it to be intentional modification of the letterhead.

      • Ray O'Light

        Driving in the oncoming lane of traffic is seldom intentional, but it does have consequences. Ditto creating a letter like this with Chief Justice at the top of the letterhead but not advising anyone, from Mr. Kann on up, that you are electing to do it. And if you see that someone’s title is redacted, whether purposely or accidentally, you take the mother fucking time to fix it (again, pardon my French). The AOC is full of sloppy freak-show babies.

  27. Obi-Wan Kenobi


    Who performs judicial branch litigation management?
    E&P Committee
    Who has drafted, without public comment a whole raft of CRC’s and governance?
    E&P Committee
    Who selects the vendors for construction and facility modification projects?
    E&P Committee
    Who, through private association has an indirect relationship with one of the vendors being sued?
    E&P Committee
    Who recently tried to supervise the unplugging of V3 in Sacramento?
    E&P Committee

    Not that there is a pattern or anything………

  28. Ray O'Light

    I have spoken to several AOC employees who are furious regarding the waste and paralysis that is taking place within the agency. Wealthy managers taking two month vacations during a budget crisis. Assistant Directors who function as invoice clerks. A lack of vision regarding what to do, how to heal things with the courts, or how to get things done. A disconnect between the Executive Office and the rank and file that is growing day by day. Retirements that do not get announced because of fear of what people that work at the AOC might think.

    Imagine a house of cards propping up your retention election. The house of Vickrey may fall before November if certain Justices want to save their jobs.

  29. Claire Voyant

    Anyone who has worked at the AOC knows that agency letters go through a rigorous process of review and editing before they are allowed to go out the door. This one looks like it was sloppily put together but if Ken Kann’s title was redacted on a public document that lists the Chief Justice at the top … I can’t even comprehend why someone would do that or assume for a second that it would go unnoticed by the California State Auditor in the current climate.

  30. Ray O'Light

    It’s been noticed. It creates some serious credibility problems for the AOC because it’s now a public record of another agency.

  31. Claire Voyant

    The whole letter is strange … there is no signature or return address. Is it really posted somewhere? It doesn’t look like EOP, AOC and/ or Judicial Council letterhead.

  32. Ray O'Light

    It looks strange because the Chief Justice does not work for Executive Office Programs. I have a feeling he knows nothing about it … until next week anyway.

  33. Claire Voyant

    Wendy they are worred now because Chin and George are going to be more and more vulnerable between the June primary and November election.

    And Judge Dredd … Dianne Bolotte is a public figure because of the Jack Urquhart case. No crocodile tears for her, please.

  34. Claire Voyant

    This is wildly entertaining for our friends in the Legislature and the State Auditor’s office.

    However, knowing Beth Jay, I would not want to suffer her wrath when she starts flying around the atrium of the state building on her broom and demands to know answers about this letter.

  35. Special Prosecutor

    I am surprised the auditor is accepting letters that don’t have a signature. How can you tell if a person really is honest if he or she can’t get a signature? Is this woman disabled and can’t use a pen? (and I apologize if that’s true). How would any reasonable person know whether the writer has even seen the letter? But these are just questions of a prosecutor.

  36. JusticeCalifornia

    Who knew about and authorized the use of the letterhead, and whether or not it was technically legal and/or ethical in this particular case, are questions that must be answered. I am sure they will be the topic of lively discussion and debate. Most employers would be livid if an employee used official company letterhead without proper authorization, because it makes it look like the employee is acting on behalf of the company.

    The problem is, this particular letter suggests the improper use of the prestige of the judicial branch in furtherance of private interests.

    Does a recommendation written on Judicial Council letterhead convey the impression that the Judicial Council is supporting this applicant?

    Of course it does.

    Does use of Judicial Council letterhead invite (or require) the auditor to give special attention to this application?

    Of course it does.

    Does use of the Judicial Council letterhead give the applicant an unfair advantage, and further his or her personal interests?

    Of course it does.

    Beyond these questions, my concern is that if you look at the application itself, it is clear the auditor is screening for associations with political entities. And although they are not listed on the application, the Judicial Council and AOC are most assuredly political entities. For heaven’s sake, last year the judicial branch wrote controversial SBX 211 to retroactively insulate judges and counties from prosecution and liability, and pulled all kinds of dubious political strings in the middle of a budget crisis to get it passed, right? And Ron George is apparently cutting deals with the Governor, right? And what exactly is the judiciary’s public relations and lobbying budget, in the middle of a budget crisis so severe that the courts are closing their doors to the public?

    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. . .

    From Wikipedia:

    “A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions. Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.”

    • JusticeCalifornia

      And, might I add– many would say that closing the courts one day a month was a protest action, made by top leadership, at the expense of the public and court employees. An expensive game of chicken, aimed at the executive and legislative branches.

      That action alone warrants a full-blown executive/legislative investigation of how the AOC/Judicial Council spends $4 billion a year. And I do mean “full-blown” — ledgers and bona fide back up documents with receipts and signed invoices, and interviews with management and those employees in a position “to know”. Let’s actually see what is more important to top leadership of the judicial branch than keeping the courts open to the public. (Dear Governor, and esteemed members of the legislature– such a review would be good government.)

      The third branch is closing courts one day a month and laying off employees to “save money”, causing delays and added inconvenience for (taxpaying) court users, and apparently courting a lawsuits in the process. Meanwhile, this same third branch is paying tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to retired “assigned” judges (who are neither elected nor appointed as required by our CA Constitution) handpicked by Ron George, to “avoid delay”, and guarding taxpayer funds to pay for building shiny new courthouses “that will generate jobs”? How does this make sense?

  37. Special Prosecutor

    I agree Justice California – I think you would have to ask this applicant directly – which of the entities here are endorsing you? If it’s only the views of the writer of the letter, she should have send the views contained herein are my own and have not been reviewed by the entities above; otherwise, it sends a confusing message. Or, use your home address and say where you work if the people above you don’t like you. This makes me wonder how many applicants played a little loose with the facts, but this is California after all, not a convent.

    BTW, do you know

    1. What the AOC’s compliance rate is regarding filing of Form 700 every year with the Fair Political Practices Commission?

    2. If there is a statue of limitations regarding imposement of penalties? See below:

    Statement of Economic Interests – Form 700 Late Filing Penalties
    The guidelines provided in the following document apply to individuals whose Form 700 is forwarded to the FPPC. These statements include, but are not limited to, certain state and local elected officials, judges, high level state employees, and certain employees for the assembly and senate. Failure to file a statement will result in a referral to the FPPC Enforcement Division. A penalty of up to $5,000 may be imposed. File on time!

    • JusticeCalifornia

      Offhand, Special Prosecutor, I do not know the answers to those questions. . .do you? As far as I can tell the FPPC only has some Form 700’s on file (but not for the judicial branch). Where are copies of Form 700s kept at the appellate court and AOC level?

      And if, say for example, something was omitted on a previously filed form– one obvious common sense question would be whether the omission was an intentional attempt to mislead (in which case, a $5,000 FPPC penalty may be the least of the problem). Like if a $75,000 gift was made, and not reported–that seems like it would be a pretty big deal, as it is hard to overlook a $75,000 gift. A fruit basket? Not so much.

      The problem is, if a major omission was strategically made with respect to one red-flag gift, you would have to suppose other omissions were also made.

      What is interesting to me is that Ron George received a $75,000 loan from Shapiro during the last days of his 1998 retention election (I know this from his 1998 election disclosure forms). I think I have read here on this blog about a $75,000 gift from Shapiro to the AOC. Is that correct? So the questions are, do Ron’s subsequent disclosures reflect the disposition of the $75,000 Shapiro loan, and how was the alleged $75,000 Shapiro gift handled in AOC disclosures? I have no personal knowledge of the answer to these questions.

      Interestingly, we are having this discussion because we are seeing problem after problem in the judicial branch. Not only has this seriously undermined the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary, but also, people who have been harmed by third branch waste and/or misconduct (or know others who have been harmed) are hopping mad, inside and outside the branch.

  38. Claire Voyant

    I also don’t want to shoot all the fish in this barrell, but isn’t Dianne Bolotte no longer a supervisor? This letter should have come from Ken Kann or someone in the Executive Office. Or even the Chief Justice himself, but the Chief has his own letterhead (a fact which the AOC constantly forgets).

    • Ray O'Light

      Let’s also not get into her views of his views on a case pending before Judge Vaughn Walker in the Northern District. But an editor might have caught that.

  39. Special Prosecutor

    I would have to look it up in FPPC regulations, or ask someone who works there. I know they fine people but I don’t know how much they monitor compliance. For example, getting a list of names from the entities (AOC, Supreme Court et al.) and then ensuring that every single name has filed a Form 700. It also would not look good for the AOC (or any court or state agency) to have a really poor track record with compliance on the Form 700 — their people could be hit with individual fines for each violation.

    But just following from this site from afar for a while, I can tell the AOC is piling up the problems. A few Council meetings between now and November are not going to help the Chief Justice (or Justice Chin, who is occupying some very complicated views on CCMS and the Commission for Impartial Courts recommendations). The CA public has thrown out members of the highest bench before, and they too were caught off-guard regarding what can anger an electorate (in this election year, government waste or corruption).

    • Claire Voyant

      I also don’t know how a Meg Whitman or a Jerry Brown campaigns this year regarding the judiciary (although I would like it if the press started asking both of them questions regarding the judicial branch in California in order to hear their views on spending and judicial independence and accountability). Is Meg Whitman going to endorse Ron George and Ming Chin? Does anyone know if she has talked about judges or the courts? They probably will stay neutral until it’s advantageous not to be.

  40. JusticeCalifornia

    Ron George and Ming Chin, the “political activist” members of the CA Supreme Court, should not wait to be “thrown out”. I was thinking today how negative and divisive things are in the judicial branch. Politics, cronyism and brutal CA judicial-branch retaliation have resulted in widespread seething distrust and anger, and have infected and/or damaged the entire branch. The public’s faith in the integrity of the CA judiciary has collapsed, and it’s not like the legislative and executive branches haven’t noticed.

    What can be done to repair the damage? I personally believe a sweeping change of leadership must take place, starting at the very top, followed by implementation of a more democratic and representative process of third branch policy and decision making, and an immediate return to “the basics” throughout the branch.

    Sorry, Ron, I think it is time for you and Ming to step down, based on your own logic and stats. You may (or may not) have started out with good intentions, but the current crisis in the third branch came about under your active (and political activist) watch, and the best thing you both could do for the branch is gracefully step down. Ron, I have read so many of your writings, and watched the branch operate under your and Ming’s tutelage over the past 12 years. Increasingly, the third branch themes are green—as in money—and royal purple—as in, it’s good to be king, especially rich, powerful kings with lots of handpicked minions, and NO oversight whatsoever.

    Remember the “good old days”. . . before your and Ming’s 1998 retention elections . . . when the branch was writing about the basics—impartiality, fairness, integrity, following the rule of law. . . .

    1. By: Chief Justice Ron George
    Message from the Chief Justice
    “Focusing on Fairness” (selected excerpt)
    Court News, April/May 1997

    “The willingness of courts to place impartiality and public confidence in our court system at the forefront of our priorities as constitutional officers and members of California’s court family is fitting, given the role of the courts in enforcing the laws that protect equality and prohibit discrimination. As the institutions expressly charged with rendering justice, it is important that we serve as a model for fairness in every facet of our operations.”

    2. By: Judge Melinda A. Johnson
    Message from the Judicial Council
    “The Journey is Our Home” (selected excerpts)
    Court News, April/May 1997

    “The Legislature has the power of the purse. The executive has the power of the sword. The judiciary has only the power of its own integrity. It is a miracle of democracy that judges make
    decisions and people then do what we tell them to do.”

    “From the President to the homeless, and despite the fact that we cannot physically imprison them or extract taxes from them, they follow our directives. This is perhaps the greatest power of all. It is “moral” power. It is ambiguous, invisible, and constantly in jeopardy. As well as we may do our work, as unbiased an approach as we may take to our decision-making, what really sustains this power is the public perception of our honesty and integrity.”

    “The point is, the perception of the disgruntled is their reality, and their reality affects our ability to exercise our “power.” It is our continuing mandate to take all reasonable and responsible steps to improve the perception, the reality, of every person who comes before the court, whether as litigant, attorney, witness, or juror.”

    “It is the striving toward the “end” of a completely unbiased judiciary that will win us respect from those we serve and give us the power to continue our work.”

    “If we scrupulously play by the rules, conscientiously making findings of fact without prejudice, and give all parties notice and an opportunity to be heard, we have done our job well.”

    “If we “act” unbiased every day, in every act we take, we will “be” unbiased. More importantly, we will be perceived as unbiased. Constant self-evaluation as individuals and as an institution should be one “means” to our “end” of an unbiased judiciary.”

    Bottom line– the resolution to the current judicial branch crisis is quite simple, really. Return to the basics, so we can avoid another civil war.

    Happy Memorial Day weekend. JC

    • Wendy Darling

      Yet another stellar example of the current Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and AOC leadership saying one thing on paper, but doing something entirely opposite in practice.

  41. Special Prosecutor

    Call me old-fashioned, but I like elections. If George and Chin resigned, would GAS be able to reappoint their successors before the election, and then the new Governor would make permanent appointments? Could the Chief appoint Huffman to be the new Chair of the Judicial Council? How does this help anyone in the courts or the AOC? Let the people vote.

  42. JusticeCalifornia

    Speaking of elections, people often complain that when asked to vote, they know very little about judicial candidates. Bert Brandenberg of Justice at Stake talked about this at the Judicial Council’s Judicial Summit held in San Francisco in November of 2006.

    At that summit, Mr. Brandenberg recommended the implementation of Judicial Performance Evaluations. JPEs have been used successfully in a number of states, in different variations. The idea is, judges are evaluated with respect to their adherence to the Code of Judicial Ethics (not the judicial rulings they make), and the results are in some form presented to the voters (like a thumbs up, or a thumbs down). The CA judicial branch has steadfastly refused to implement any meaningful oversight measures, including JPEs. In fact, when the CIC report came out, Senator Steinberg asked where the judicial accountability measures, like JPEs, were, and opined that the lack of any such measures undercut the credibility of the whole report.

    That is old news. But here is new news: I was asked by someone I know from San Diego for my opinion about who should be elected to the San Diego bench (there are five spots in contention). I had no idea, but this weekend researched who was running down there, and lo and behold! I found out the eyes of the nation are on San Diego’s upcoming judicial races, because certain members of the public (Christian Conservatives) have taken matters into their own hands, and are using the lack of judicial accountability as a platform in the San Diego judicial races! A group called “Better Courts Now” has put together a slate of 4 “religious right” candidates to run against incumbent judges. The marketing techniques are simple, and aimed at the masses, with videos on vimeo and youtube. I have never seen anything like it, but it sure looks like the wave of the future –inexpensive mass marketing of judicial candidates via the web.

    So for those who have resisted responsible official oversight and accountability measures like JPEs, leaving voters in the dark, without any neutral assessment of a judge’s adherence to the Code of Judicial Ethics. . ..And those who have turned the CA third branch into a political ATM machine run on money, power and spin (with Big Ron being the grand politician/spinmeister supreme) I daresay this is, in many ways, “your baby” (kickback karma?)

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. If you thought being a judge was hard before, welcome to the brave new world.

  43. John Larson? what is his role at the AOC now? heck he used to be just an analyst at the AOC a few years ago. how did he commit fraud? of what nature? Thanks for the info

  44. Special Prosecutor

    If true, Mr. Larson submitted a letter to the Californa State Auditor that was unapproved by the Executive Office; he redacted a title on the letterhead; he left off the AOC’s business address; and he did not even bother to get a real signature from the author to authenticate the letter.

  45. Special Prosecutor

    And I also am informed that on a second letter he submitted, he also failed to get a signature from the author. But these are questions that I imagine CSA-BSA and potentially the District Attorney will have to ask and look into.

  46. Claire Voyant

    Let me guess, they will blame a Secretary.

    He has done the state a huge favor by showing how incompetent AOC management is. And if Dianne Bolotte’s finger is stuck in this hole, you can be sure it’s dirty.

  47. Special Prosecutor

    Miss Voyant:

    He will withdraw or will be knocked out … it’s a win win for anyone who has ever questioned anything that has been presented on this blog (it’s all strangely coming true, isn’t it?).

    PS, this blogger seems to go into hibernation, but this was news to me:

    Audits of AOC and Courts Pared Down to Accommodate Concerns
    [Cheryl Miller]

    The state Assembly on Wednesday passed a scaled back version of legislation that would require regular audits of the Administrative Office of the Courts and trial courts.

    As originally introduced, Assembly Bill 2521 would have required the state controller to review the books at the AOC and California’s 58 superior courts every year starting in 2012. But to address the AOC’s concerns that annual audits would be too invasive, the bill was amended late last week.

    The controller would now be required to launch a pilot program in 2012 to audit six trial courts. In 2013 the audit program would expand to review all local courts at least once every four years.

    The revised bill also decreases the AOC’s audit schedule to once every two years. Audits would start in 2013.

    The bill passed 42-0 with Assembly Republicans abstaining from the vote.

  48. WiseEmployee

    Ms. Miller’s articles has several incorrect points in it. First, the Assembly Republicans did not abstain from voting for the bill. Many, many Republican supported the bill. The vote count Ms. Miller notes was an initial vote that reflected a bipartisan vote. Additionally, several legislators added on so the vote count was higher. Also, the bill was not amended to change the audit schedule because of AOC concerns but because the Legislature needed to bring costs down. I spoke with the sponsors and author’s office of the bill and they confirm that for several weeks they’d planned to amend the bill to include the pilot so the Controller can devise the best audit format, then audit the courts every 3 years and the AOC every other year. There was no bending to the AOC on these amendments and the republicans have not walked away from supporting this bill. Sometimes things happen simply because of legislative will and in this case it was because of the desire to have regular independent audits of the judiciary in an affordable manner. We are facing another budget crisis after all….

    • Special Prosecutor

      WE: Cheryl Miller augmented her reporting:

      UPDATE 6/3: While the initial vote tally on AB 2521 was indeed 42-0, 30 Assembly members — mostly Republicans — later added their “yes” votes to the bill bringing the final count to 72-0. Assembly Republican Caucus spokesman Seth Unger said a lot of members were simply “off the floor” when the first vote took place.

  49. Special Prosecutor

    Thank you for the clarifications. I was going to say, Republicans abstaining from audits is not a good PR move in this stage of the election cycle (!). So I am glad to hear that it had bipartisan support.

  50. The trial courts are going to have to pay for those audits and I see nothing in the bill that provides the branch with money to cover that. Good thing the frequency went down.

    • Just Sayin'

      The State Controller’s Office also asked for 56 positions to do these audits. (!)

  51. WiseEmployee

    So is there a problem with the controller’s request? You seem upset about it, just sayin’.

  52. I guess I missed something here. So John larson did not get signatures on these letters and removed an address from a letterhead……for what purpose? What was in the letters? thank you

  53. Completely off topic:

    What happened to the AOCWatcher? Not the blog, but the blogger?

  54. Special Prosecutor

    He died.

    Or, she doesn’t need to do anything anymore.

    Justice George and Justice Chin’s goose is cooked.

    So is Bill Vickrey’s and Ron Overholt’s and every AOC Director they have supported in illegal or unethical behavior.

    It could remain in this one thread all Summer long but it’s already in play. This blog is not needed anymore.

    • Claire Voyant

      The Watcher died would be great folklore.

      In August 2009, it will be exactly one year that this blog has existed. The entire time, the Chief Justice and leadership at the AOC have flailed about like puppets in suits that have no strings attached to the arms, spouting about fringes, helpless. Even Justice Chin, the mighty computer wiz, could not think of how to compete with an anonymous blog. If it rematins up, it will be a valuable reference for anyone who is interested in wanting to know how to vote in November (yes or no) on Justice George and Justice Chin’s retention. It has so much valuable information regarding a California public agency, that it should become a public document and a replicable model for the Obama administration (when they are looking for an easy way to hunt out white collar crime or give voice to employees who are in danger in a government workplace setting).

      • Justice Chin is no computer wiz. He knows something about genetics but his computer knowledge is sophomoric. He has been trotted out by the Chief Justice because attempts to explain and justify CCMS by Justices Hill and Huffman, Mr. Overholt, Ms Calabro and that judge from Ventura County have failed.

        He knows no more about computers than we do.

      • Claire Voyant

        Sadly, true. Sadly for Justice George and Justin Chin, they are the highest ranking officials in the California judicial branch with accountability for CCMS (as Chair of the Judicial Council and Chief Justice of California, and for Ming, as the highest ranking bench officer in the state with direct oversight over CCMS policy and spending). Even they would not claim to work for Bill Vickrey without giggling hysterically and peeing their pants. How do they really expect the electorate to vote FOR them in November when they have done nothing about injustice in their own building?

    • JusticeCalifornia

      The Marin court audit was announced almost a year ago and was supposed to start within a couple of months. Here it is a year later, and we have seen the Marin Court alter and destroy documents; key people resign, retire, or get laid off; and a lot of track covering, while the audit has yet to really get underway. In the meanwhile, we have had to stay as vigilant and activist as ever in documenting and reporting. In some ways, the delay has been helpful, because the extent of bad behavior (and how far up the line it goes, in terms of high-level protection and obfuscation) is being revealed in the desperate measures being taken to cover up the bad behavior — and we have been able to identify and document a new round of bad and reportable behavior with respect to previously identified old issues. Things are coming “full circle”, so to speak, and people are now much more aware than they were a year ago, and know what to look for.

      My point is, barring imminent criminal indictments and wholesale resignations, I would urge caution in making sweeping statements telling everyone that everything is resolved. Sharing information, connecting the dots, and reporting to the auditor and other oversight officials will remain key until desired reform is actually effectuated. It will also provide a measure of protection for those who have put themselves out there on the front line.

      In other words, I hope AOC watcher stays around until the job is done, and everyone knows it, and can celebrate.

  55. oldtimer38

    Sorry, but that Bolotte & Larson letter doesn’t look legit. Looks more like something somebody found in the copy machine. Do we even know if it was actually mailed? Bolotte may be a lightning rod to some of us here at the AOC, but this letter looks doesn’t look right. If its a real copy of something actually mailed, why isn’t there a signature?

  56. Special Prosecutor

    These letters are all public records:

  57. Is someone going to post a copy of the letter that is the source of this conversation? that would be cool. thanks

  58. Hey thanks Justice California! Since I did not know the content of the letter, the link to wedrawthelines did not compute.

    This is so curious, if he was going to go all the way with an out and out fradulent letter, why would he change the AOC letterhead? Some of the letter too is in my mind sort of well, not germaine to the job…i.e. his marriage and driving “officials” to Sierra County. BFD! I am not dissing same sex marriage but excuse me like, he would have some influence, based on his position at the AOC, on the Supreme Court’s decision? pleeze!

    And being the manager over “Promising and Effective Programs Unit”?? What the heck is that? Sounds like a big waste of taxpayers money unit if you ask me. And would you be impressed with that as a potential employer?
    So someone tell me please, what is the real story behind all of this? Thanks again my blogger friends.

  59. Special Prosecutor

    Mr. Flea:

    You have the same questions as everyone else in the California State Auditor’s office. I think only the applicant knows why he (1) felt comfortable using Ron Georg’s name, (2) did not get a signature from Ms. Bolotte (whoever the heck she is), or (3) messed up the letterhead. I will leave the author of his second AOC letter out of this blog because her identify does not matter, but it is also an unsigned letter and appears to be from a subordinate of his at the AOC.

  60. Claire Voyant

    I am still incredulous that this letter even got out the door. The Executive Office is the most anal retentive place on earth when it comes to correspondence. And Dianne is universally despised within EOP, but is she really this stupid? It’s like something out of a class where they teach you what not to do. If it’s real, it will become legendary in the world of State of California politics as a branchwide fuck-up.

  61. Special Prosecutor




    115. (a) Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public
    office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty of a felony.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Special Prosecutor,

      As several have pointed out, if you’re one of the cool kids at the AOC as are Larson and Bolotte you are virtually untouchable and above any laws that might otherwise affect the AOC and its employees.

      If you believe for a second that any internal action will happen as a result of that letter don’t hold your breath. The best than can be hoped for Mr. Bill’s casual mention that it probably wasn’t a good idea right now.

      If people are able to get away with a hundred thousand plus dollar embezzlement in the HR department that went unreported to law enforcement (hence no charges) if people are able to get away with employing unlicensed contractors on an estimated 42,000 jobs worth over 30 million dollars, hell will freeze over solid before anything comes of the letters.

  62. Claire Voyant

    OWK – I don’t know what kind of Kool-Aid you are on, but this one is not good. It has nothing to do with being the “cool kids,” which I can most assuredly let you know is not the case.

    One has been sued in both state and federal court, and the other just got caught with his pants down. It’s all public information and can’t be erased.

  63. Special Prosecutor

    As a baseline, the California State Auditor knows the following regarding this applicant and any other who has carelessly treated the process:

    Dianne Bolotte, Defendant

    Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco
    Case Number: CGC-10-496147

    Dianne Bolotte, Defendant

    Nylund v. Abueg et al
    Plaintiff: Patrik Nylund
    Defendants: Justina Abueg, Peter Allen, Angel Bayangos, Dianne Bolotte, Mark Gelade, Kenneth Kann, John Palmer, Cynthia Passon, David Power, Andrew Sommer, Nancy Spero, Brian Taylor, Phyllis Treige and Fredric Trester

    Case Number: 3:2008cv03461

    Dianne Bolotte, Defendant (even if the cases were settled or did not play out in court, this woman is a horrible choice to file a forged letter of recommendation).

  64. Claire Voyant

    OWK – if you know the names and citations of all litigation involving Ernesto Fuentes (past or present), can you post it here in this thread? TIA

    • Claire Voyant

      Thank you – do you have a list though of every current or past case that his disgusting taint on it? For example:

      Negley v. Judicial Council of California et al
      Plaintiff: Paula J. Negley
      Defendants: Judicial Council of California and Administrative Office of the Courts

      Case Number: 3:2008cv03690
      Filed: August 1, 2008

      Court: California Northern District Court
      Office: San Francisco Office [ Court Info ]
      County: Solano
      Presiding Judge: Hon. Marilyn H. Patel

      • Claire Voyant

        Take your time and post it here when you get it done. The list will will be read by the Judicial Council, the California Supreme Court, the Legislature, every CEO and Presiding Judge, the California State Auditor, and other interested entitites.

        I am assuming that the Governor does not bother to read anymore, besides People. But even he will read it if someone tells him that it’s here.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      That will be a stretch.

  65. Claire, it is true about correspondence leaving the AOC. Usually anything needs to go through editing, a manager, and maybe even Bill V himself (micromanager he is). Perhaps Mr. Larson just decided to skip those steps like he did the signature? very interesting.

    • Claire Voyant

      I also did not know that he got a second letter from an employee and she also did not sign it (something is very rotten in Denmark). Could they somehow claim they have judicial immunity to obtain signatures? It’s frankly bizarre!

      • Special Prosecutor

        Beyond the ill-advised hierarchy choices (someone above who has been in the news, someone he evaluates) …

        The second letter has a matching font electronic signature to Ms. Bolotte’s.

        The California State Auditor is looking at these applicants very, very thoroughly.

  66. Special Prosecutor

    I also would appreciate a list of litigation if anyone has compiled it.

    Arlene Borick has one of the contractor cases in SF Superior – she should put it on calendar, keep the hearing date, and stop bumping it forward. I don’t care if it’s common practice or she is just a Commissioner. It looks really bad for a court to delay these cases.

    I also believe the Negley case is waiting for an order from the USDC.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      They’re trying to drag all matters past the November election if it isn’t apparent.

      • Ray O'Light

        It’s been noted. Are the contractors really willing to forego payment until after November 2010? Does no one on the Council have an issue with them working during litigation?

        If someone knows Commissioner Borick, please ask her or her clerk why these cases keep getting bumped out.

        I don’t know if Judge Patel has any kind of strange love for George or Chin, but even she can’t sit on issuing a simple MSJ order forever.

        I can only hope

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        [bold][i]The contractors are getting paid![/bold][/i]

        What the contractors haven’t been paid for is the time where Michael Paul blew the whistle up until the time that they were re-signed after they got valid contractors licenses.

        Personally, if I were the AOC I would still be withholding the money due them unless and until they could demonstrate that these companies had the proper workers compensation insurance in place at the time they were working for the AOC. Because if they hired an unlicensed contractor, its a good bet that the workers compensation policy was invalid due to underpayment of premiums, which just leaves the AOC and the taxpayers on the hook for any injured workers of these companies.

      • Special Prosecutor

        So the contractors have new licenses? What then is the point of litigation?

        The AOC is also putting the JC at risk for a judgment that provides the contractors with full payment, interest and damages. Not to mention some potential bad press for George and Chin, “Judicial Council has to pay _ millions in back pay to contractors; AOC sued companies in December 2009 but continued placing the contractors in the courts.”

      • Ray O'Light

        These are the cases correct where the AOC dragged in staff from Jerry Brown’s shop to file the suits? Mess. I can only hope they go to trial so a jury decides that the AOC is indeed not exempt from the Public Contracting Code and as the hiring state entitiy it had a duty to verify the contractors’ licenses. The contractors want their money and they don’t want to assume any liability the AOC is trying to foist on them now (especially after they were happily paid millions of dollars in taxpayer money by the AOC who hired them).

    • Claire Voyant

      Don’t Westlaw and LexisNexis have state of CA data bases with parties to litigation and decisions? If his name is Ernesto V. Fuentes it should not be hard to look up. I can do it next week when I am back in the office, along with cases involving AOC and/or JC.

  67. Ray O'Light

    Someone also mentioned they had seen the signed Urquhart settlement. If there is a link to that document, please post. Thanks.

  68. Special Prosecutor

    It is also should be troubling that overpaid schmoe Terry Friedman (the boy who eats JAM and has fed everyone up and down the state a line of crap for years about CCMS) was left out of this press release:

    Click to access NR23-10.PDF

    His appointment was announced in April but the AOC left out his employment.

    Click to access NR19-10.PDF

    But now they have added it to their web page.

    Hon. Terry B. Friedman (Ret.)
    Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services

    Does Ron George know how bad this stuff is looking to members of the State Bar?

  69. Claire Voyant

    If this thread is going to turn into the Magic 8 Ball of questions and floated answers, does anyone know how this judge race is shaping up in San Francisco? I noticed in my voter pamphlet that Judge Ulmer’s candidate statement says, “Please vote to retain me.”

    • Special Prosecutor

      County of San Francisco races

      Superior Court Judge, Seat 6
      590 of 590 precincts reporting

      · Linda Colfax40,725

      Harry Dorfman23,863

      Roderick McLeod6,892

      Robert Retana5,559

      Superior Court Judge, Seat 15
      590 of 590 precincts reporting

      Michael Nava ¤ 34,327

      Richard Ulmer Jr.* ¤ 31,630

      Daniel Dean8,964

      • Claire Voyant

        Thank you. I love early birds:

        Nava Ahead of Ulmer in S.F. Bench Challenge, Will Meet in Runoff
        [Kate Moser]

        Michael Nava has pulled ahead of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer in his quest to unseat the incumbent judge, who was appointed last June.

        Nava, a gay Latino Supreme Court research attorney who made a campaign pitch for more diversity on the San Francisco bench, has captured nearly 45 percent of the vote to Ulmer’s 42 percent. Almost all the votes had been counted.

        “We’re feeling good about our chances in November,” said Ulmer at a quiet gathering at his consultant’s office, where a table full of uneaten sandwiches sat in an empty conference room. Judge Ernest Goldsmith had stopped by for support.

        Ulmer added that he’d look forward to a two-person race, where he could focus on his 23 years of experience in the courtroom, and Nava’s “years of experience out of it.”

        Nava, a staff attorney for Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, said before election night that he planned to have dinner, watch the TV show Glee, and go to bed, and he wouldn’t be available by cell phone.

        The third candidate in the race for Ulmer’s seat, Dan Dean, gathered at the Irish Bank bar with supporters. Dean, who campaigned on a grassroots, meeting-people-at-BART-stations-and-street corners campaign, said he was disappointed he didn’t get more votes, but proud of his campaign. “I don’t regret anything I did. I love that I ran, I loved the campaign experience. I’m young, 44, and I have a lot fight left in me.”

  70. Ray O'Light

    Are there any donation limits in place now for judicial officers in California, or is the Judicial Council and Justin Ming Chin still “working all that out”?

    Judge Ulmer’s web page and donation form says to give in any amount that you want:

    Contributions are not tax deductible. Contributions may be made in any amount and may come from any source other than foreign nationals.

  71. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    There has been a small exodus of AOC employees abruptly leaving or announcing their retirement from the agency.

    Of course, several more have left or have been forced out of the hostile work environment created by Mr. Couch and Mr. Fuentes.

    Laura Rigdon, Tony Wernert and Melvin Kennedy have all announced their retirement and there has been a half dozen recent resignations.

    This is a well established pattern to thwart justice and government accountability. If people are called into a room by law enforcement or an investigator outside the AOC, as public employees they are bound to reveal all they know. If they retire or leave agency employment, then investigators must subopena them on what they know.

    Right as the AG started to investigate the practices of the LARTA, there were mass resignations and retirements announced.

    Right as the FBI started to investigate the gladiator fights out at corcoran, there were mass resignations and retirements announced.

    Right as Johannes Mehserle was about to be questioned, he resigned so that he would not be legally required to answer.

    I’m not saying any of these people were involved in anything but they have knowledge of certain events. And auditors and investigators cannot ask people questions if they’re not around to answer them.

    I believe the AOC HR department now has record turnover over any HR department in the state, approaching eighty people forced into retirement or forced out.

    So if there is movement afoot to actually do anything about anything, there is a good explanation of why certain events might be happening.

    • Wendy Darling

      And despite all that is now known and haqs been exposed, nothing has actually been done by anyone in a position of power and authority – whether inside or outside the AOC or the Judcial Branch – to stop what has happened, and is continuing to happen, or even to intervene.

      Which is why the line staff employees at the AOC are all scared to death, and won’t report ANYTHING anymore, not even to the State Legislature or the Attorney General, or elsewhere. Because no one will do anything to stop it, it has only gotten worse, and every line staff employee at the AOC, especially in the HR Division, knows what will happen to them if they report anything, or even speak up.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        That is true as well. I missed that in the little window.

      • Ray O'Light


        I would advise people in your HR to not take on the responsibility of feeling they have report anything. People in higher levels of government are aware that it is a very hostile environment right now at the AOC.

        And regarding these letters to the California State Auditor, only in a mental institution would people commit a felony for a statewide commission position that requires a clean record and no prior record of felonies.

    • Special Prosecutor

      Laura Rigdon is the Executive Office Secretary that has had ultimate repsonsibility to keep and maintain Bill Vickrey’s correspondence, e-mail, and appointment calendar, for the entire time that she has worked for him, correct?

  72. Hey wait a minute! I have known Tony Wernert for years and he is not some AOC hack. I have never known anyone any more apolitical than Tony and he kept his head down to keep out of the political fray.He just did his job, liked it and went to work like a regular fella. Crikey folks he has been working in the court system for at least 30 years, give him a break, maybe it is just time for him to enjoy his life. If you have other facts to the contrary, please enlighten us. Sure I have made my accusations, but you all have corrected me when wrong so….thanks fellow bloggers

  73. Special Prosecutor

    Mr. Flea:

    I don’t recall hearing anything critical regarding Mr. Wernert.

    What Ms. Rigdon knows and what documentation she possesses is of much more interest.

  74. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    There was nothing critical regarding Mr. Wernert, Mr. Kennedy or Ms. Rigdon. It was more a comment on the mini exodus underway at the AOC and how this pattern has played out in other public agencies under investigation with key resignations and retirements.

    Regardless, these leaving the AOC for any reason should make their way to one of the private law firms looking into these matters as they will find a whole lot of law firms unwilling to fight city hall. Most of them won’t touch any case against the AOC with a 10 foot pole.

  75. Ray O'Light

    The AOC is a state, not a city agency. Once the damn is broken (and this dam now has a hole so big with water rushing out that no one, from Dianne Bolotte to Ernesto Fuentes, can plug it up with their fat dirty fingers). Once it starts, there will be a flurry of subpoenas and complaints.

  76. Claire Voyant

    Lots of suits today at the AOC.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Vic Lee (ABC News) was interviewing Ron Overholt this morning as well. And lots of suits.

    • Claire Voyant

      Something is up and is going to blow. I have seen this happen before. When you have too many problems at one time (with the California State Auditor, the California Legislature, Judicial Elections and Campaign Finance, two Supreme Court retention elections, local judicial elections as early as tomorrow, the Governor race in November, the contractor and Urquhart cases) it all can explode in your face. Ask Gray Davis.

      • Wendy Darling

        This might be one reason for all the suits at the AOC on Monday – published Monday, June 7th, in the AOC e-news:

        Daily News Clips from the Office of Communications & Office of Governmental Affairs Administrative Office of the Courts 6/7/10 6

        Court Computer Glitch Exposed Confidential Data
        Cheryl Miller
        The Recorder and
        SACRAMENTO — Sacramento County Superior Court officials shut down public document computers Friday after they discovered that the kiosks were able to display confidential information, including draft rulings and probate-related medical records.
        Meredith Bostian, director of operations for the court’s civil division, said in an e-mail sent to courthouse officials Friday morning and obtained by The Recorder that recent installation of “a new release” of the judicial branch’s fledging Court Case Management System “broke some things” and erroneously made some private filings publicly accessible.
        “Two categories of documents are now being displayed on the Public Document Viewer that shouldn’t be,” Bostian wrote. “Documents that are ‘Draft’ — CMP tentative rulings, minute orders and probate notes and … Confidential documents — Fee Waiver Applications for Civil.”
        Additionally, Bostian wrote, “Probate has had to turn their kiosks off as all confidential Probate documents (medical records, investigator reports, CPS history, etc.) became viewable via the Probate kiosks.”
        Court staffers were working with technicians from Deloitte, the consulting firm with a judicial branch contract to create the new statewide computer network, to fix the problem, Bostian wrote.
        Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen White, who was still being briefed on the situation Friday afternoon, said the breach was discovered Thursday or Friday, although he couldn’t say whether it was an in-house technician or someone from the public who flagged the problem.
        White said that it appears that every document that was filed on the Court Case Management System — even the most sensitive records that are normally available only to jurists and case parties — was available for viewing by anyone, perhaps for as long as two weeks. No one knows how many of those documents may have been accessed by an unauthorized viewer, he said.
        White said technicians suspect the problem started after May 17 when the Administrative Office of the Courts and its CCMS contractor, Deloitte Consulting, installed new programming on the computer network. The Sacramento court did not install anything locally that would have dropped document confidentiality shields, he said.
        “We’re very anxious about this,” White said. “We’re going to prepare a report. We’ll make public what we’ve learned about what happened because obviously privacy laws are implicated.”

      • Claire Voyant

        Either computers or the ongoing Bob Emerson drama, “How I Fell In Love With My Fantasy Lover, Judicial Immunity.”

        The Recorder has a headline “AOC Blames Data Breach on Local Court.” It requires subscriber access but I can’t imagine it’s going to help anything right now in this climate.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        I believe Mr. Paul may be challenging Mr. Emerson’s fantasy lover and going after other bedfellows.


        I’m wondering if there’s anyone left he didn’t file suit against.

    • Ray O'Light

      Did Mr. Paul sever his employment with the AOC or is he going balls out Norma Rae with a bank account? The AOC is extremely vulnerable to any past or present employee who has a solid case against them and can afford a good lawyer.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        It doesn’t resemble an employment case. He was in the AOC’s offices working today “like nothing had occurred” so I’m told.

      • Wendy Darling

        Michael Paul is indeed still working at the AOC, and his presence haunts the halls, worries, and conscience (or what tattered and stained remnants of it that are left) of the office of the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and the AOC, especially on the 5th floor and the Executive Office, as well it should.

      • Ray O'Light

        Good to know.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        I recall him mentioning his attorney was Nancy Hersh. She appears to be an expert in complex liability/personal injury litigation.

        Off her website:


        San Francisco, April 19, 2010 — Hersh & Hersh is pleased to announce that its co-founder, Nancy Hersh will receive the San Francisco Trial Lawyers’ Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor recognizes the breadth and depth of Ms. Hersh’s career as a personal injury trial lawyer.

        “Nancy’s outstanding results in trials and settlements have truly been groundbreaking and courageous,” notes Amy Eskin, a Hersh & Hersh partner. “These cases often involved issues of liability and causation that had never been tried and won before. Nancy’s tenacity, creativity and strength pitted our small law firm against the giants of the pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer product industry. Prevailing under those circumstances is a tribute to her skill and ability as a groundbreaking trial lawyer.”

        Ms. Hersh and her father, LeRoy Hersh, essentially invented mass torts in the early 70s, representing hundreds of women who developed virulent cancers and other abnormalities resulting from the use of the drug DES. She not only prevailed, but in the process she redefined the standard applied to the statute of limitations in pharmaceutical product liability litigation.

        Her landmark work on behalf of women includes cases against Dow Corning, the maker of silicone breast implants. Because of this work, silicone breast implants were taken off the market and thousands of women brought lawsuits and obtained compensation from the various manufacturers of breast implants.

        Recently, she served as a principal architect in the $690 million dollar settlement of the mass tort action against drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company involving its antipsychotic medication Zyprexa.

        “I am profoundly honored to receive recognition of my life’s work from the San Francisco Trial Lawyers,” said Ms. Hersh. “My career continues to be dedicated to representing clients who would not otherwise have a voice and helping them through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Receiving this award from my peers gives even more meaning to my work as a trial lawyer.”

        About Hersh & Hersh The law firm of Hersh & Hersh was founded in 1970 and is located in San Francisco, California. The firm’s trial lawyers represent clients locally and nationally advocating on behalf of individuals and their families, in small and large cases, class actions and multi district litigations. Hersh & Hersh has significant experience and groundbreaking results in among others, personal injury, products liability, medical device and drug litigations.

  77. JusticeCalifornia

    I have been advocating, documenting and reporting– against court corruption, and for court reform –for over a decade.

    And I am here to say I recently saw the judicial oversight system work, for the first time in many years. When that happens (and it took an extended, dedicated, steadfast, won’t take no-for-an-answer, stick-to-the-law effort to create an environment for it to happen), it takes the wind out of BOTH the pro-corruption AND anti-corruption-revolution sails.

    The fact that this is a novelty in some courts and court administrations is a travesty.

    The justice system is supposed to work, and it does, when the law is properly applied. It should happen all the time, at every level (trial court on up), in every aspect (court and administrative) in every court. Then the CA judiciary really will be a model for the U.S., and the world.

    We need to work together to a) document and expose corruption; b) demand reform; and c) get strong, ethical, back-to-basics judges and administrators into leadership positions, so justice becomes the rule, not the exception.

    Just my opinion.

  78. Hi fellow bloggers, thanks for the update on Tony. Claire, I have my fingers crossed that you are right. But I am not sure. The AOC seems to be the “teflon” agency.

    • Claire Voyant

      Oh, and I forgot the unreported gifts from Mr. Shapiro and now we find out OTHER undisclosed donors. Yikes. It’s all like a pile of TNT like in the Bugs Bunny cartoons where you wait and you watch it explode.

      “I had a great dream last night that CJ resigned his post as CJ in order to stay on the bench amid the controversy” – that is not so far-fetched.

  79. By the way not that anyone cares but I had a great dream last night that CJ resigned his post as CJ in order to stay on the bench amid the controversy (somehow I knew as it is in dreams, that he would not be retained in the election as CJ). Then they had this horribly expensive outlandish party at the AOC at tax payer expense, at which the CJ gave all of the RADS very expensive presents.
    Ok I read this blog waaaayyyy toooo much! 🙂

  80. Wendy Darling

    Where have all the judges gone who used to post here? Where is the ACJ?

    And where is the AOC Watcher blog master?

  81. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    My guess is that it might lead back to staying away from this blog under the theory that everything herein may be the subject of pending or impending litigation and that judges may wish to stay away as to not be misinterpreted as taking a side in any pending or impending litigation.

    If any judge is reading, perhaps they might be kind enough to comment and tell me if I am correct.

  82. Composite Knuckles

    I had lost track of this blog (and the AOC) but this material is circulating up and down the state.

    If the AOC (and administrative agency with limited powers) is now positioning itself with Deloitte Consulting (!) as somehow being superior to local trial courts in California, it is asking for some big trouble over the summer. I don’t know if anti-George and anti-Chin retention campaigns are being organized, but you can sign me up to help.

  83. Composite Knuckles

    Also, does anyone know:

    1. What was the explanation for the Bolotte and Greenaway letters (both AOC employees) not having signatures?

    2. Has this information been shared with the California State Auditor?

    • Claire Voyant

      Kenneth L. Kann is the AOC Executive Office Programs Division Director in charge of all three AOC employees: Bolotte, Larson and Greenaway.

      I do not work in the same division as this man anymore, but I can tell you that he barely knows what day of the week it is, let alone who the California State Auditor is.

  84. One suit settles while another begins!

    I invite you to explore this recent and most interesting information:

    MICHAEL PAUL VS. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS et al, Case No. CGC-10-500520, filed June 8, 2010 with the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco.

    The AOC saga continues, eh?

  85. Composite Knuckles

    Continues and worsens, apparently. Someone mentioned dreaming … I had a wet dream that ACJ was a subset all along of CJA and they simply called themselves CJA because it’s an anagram. Seriously, what’s the difference now? You are all judges and have more power than the AOC.

    From wet dream to chuckle … this made my day:

    LOS ANGELES – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had some trouble saying “Hasta la vista, baby” to the voting booth because of a ballot mishap in Los Angeles.

    Poll worker Keta Hodgson says a scanning machine rejected Schwarzenegger’s first ballot Tuesday because he selected two Senate candidates, instead of one.

    Hodgson says the Republican governor was given the choice of filling out a new ballot or not having his Senate choice count. He cast a fresh ballot.

  86. Special Prosecutor

    Nancy Hersh is a pitbull that you want on your team. Smart woman, wins cases.

  87. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Wow. I do too. Her zyprexa suit led to criminal convictions all over the place for off-label marketing. That’s a unique nuance of civil litigation you don’t see much of.

  88. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I got me a .pdf copy of this taxpayer lawsuit/false claims act retaliation complaint by contacting Hersh & Hersh.

    Attorneys representing the plaintiff:

    Nancy Hersh
    Mark Burton
    Hersh & Hersh, San Francisco

    Damon Connolly
    Law Offices of Damon Connolly, San Rafael

  89. Special Prosecutor

    I also read the complaint tonight and it is clean and strong. If it is the same person, the attorney Mark Burton recently ran for a judgeship in Marin. He lost but he ran on a platform of not accepting any campaign donations (note to Ming).

    The new Michael Paul suit is most excellent because it will force discovery and will start to clean up problems at the AOC.

    Finally, the letters submitted by John Larson to the California State Auditor remain problematic. If no one is advising Ken Kann, then Mary Roberts or Curtis Child need to call Bill Vickrey and tell him that this is a serious problem. John Larson ubmitted two letters to the California State Auditor with no signature.

    Even if it’s caused by the fact that he is incompetent and an entry level supervisor that can’t follow directions, it is a serious problem. He has used the Chief Justice’s name without permission and it’s creating bad talk within the capitol — I don’t have any great love for the Chief Justice, but as a member of the bench this should cause Ron and Justice Chin to wake up and sound the alarm.

  90. formerAOCtech

    I’ve recently come across some information about some hushed hiring activity within the IS division of the AOC. From what I’ve heard, it’s shameless cronyism, a promotion in the middle of a hiring freeze of someone with questionable qualifications at best with the position being shown as unfilled on paper to keep it under the radar.

    It’s bad enough that they’re ignoring the hiring freeze while court staff endures layoffs, closures and furloughs but now they’re ignoring basic HR standards within the AOC. No job posting announcement, no interviews, not even for qualified internal staff. Sounds like the AOC management is all about justifying doing whatever it feels like doing, even breaking their own internal policies, while everyone else has to play by the rules.

    Question is, how many other “unfilled positions” have been quietly given to people who may or not be even qualified for the position? Are they receiving raises in pay while AOC and court staff see their pay cut due to furloughs, nevermind all the people who had their positions cut completely?

    Just when you thought their behavior couldn’t be more egregious, rumor has it some in AOC management are insisting that they “need” new iPads at the taxpayers expense. Unbelievable.

  91. Special Prosecutor

    PS, I am a member of the bench in another state.

  92. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    That last allegation of bid shopping will likely trigger an audit of every construction vendor doing business with the AOC as well as an audit of the AOC’s construction and contracting practices. In turn, the list of respondents will grow with even more unlicensed contractors being uncovered as subcontractors and result in legislative action. Unlicensed contractors are never union contractors.

    I can’t see how the state legislature, the governor or political candidates could not take notice of this complaint.


  93. Claire Voyant

    I also don’t know who is advising Ken Kann (certainly not Dianne Bolotte or John Larson) but I checked and the evaluation panel for the new statewide redistricting commission is having a hearing on June 11.

    I believe parts of it will be LIVE. I also believe that conduct of investigations regarding applicants is on their agenda.

  94. Special Prosecutor

    Thank you. I am a retired judge living in Nevada now, who knows the Chief Justice and Bill Vickrey, and the work of Jack Urquhart, quite well. As they say with hookers and cards … know when to fold ’em, and know when to walk away.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      …and know when to run.

      The full text of the suit is now visible on the website

      • Claire Voyant

        Reading this complaint, it’s so clear to me now why Kim Davis turned in her gun and left the all-male Emerson gang. That row of offices would nicely convert to holding cells.

  95. JusticeCalifornia

    The Marin judge’s race (Paul Haakenson v. Mark Burton) was interesting. Burton is largely unknown among the Marin “usual suspects”, and ran against Marin’s most popular judge, namely Haakenson. Excerpts from the Marin Independent Journal blog:

    “Paul has arguably been the most popular judge on the Marin bench in the past couple of years; he solicited a campaign war chest of over $125,000 filled by many of those who appear before him; and he signed up controversial Neil Moran (and realistically, Neil’s wife Judge Lynn Duryee–who appears to be the wealthiest judge in Marin) to run his campaign.”

    “Burton, a relatively unknown lawyer with a San Francisco practice, took no campaign contributions or endorsements, and reportedly spent less than $1,000 (less than 1% of Haakenson’s war chest!) in this race. Let me repeat that: Burton, a relatively unknown lawyer with a San Francisco practice, took no campaign contributions or endorsements, and spent less than $1,000 (less than 1% of Haakenson’s war chest!) in this race. In other words, Burton entered a race against Marin’s most popular judge, with both hands voluntarily tied behind his back.”

    “Burton was mocked for having no endorsements, and people on the IJ blogs gleefully dared someone to name a single person voting for Burton. As it turns out, over 21% of the voters–one out of every five voters — voted for Burton.”

    “As we now see, almost 9,000 people question Haakenson– and those are just those motivated enough to vote in a judicial election. It is virtually certain that many of those votes were protest votes–because few people know Burton, and by almost all accounts Haakenson has performed very well in his courtroom. What Haakenson has not done, however, is show leadership in protecting the public by taking steps to ensure integrity and fairness on the Marin bench and in Marin court administration as a whole. In fact, we now know from his alliance with Moran and Duryee that he is playing patty cake with those who have fostered corruption and/or cronyism in the Marin court for decades.”

    I am increasingly amazed at what a single determined person can do in terms of making a point and raising awareness. . . .

  96. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Mr. Burton (and yes, it’s the same Mark Burton that ran for judge in Marin) initially set his sights on cleaning up the Marin Courts, something he campaigned on that won this unknown, very late entry into the race candidate 21% of the vote, making haakensen pay over 4 dollars per vote to Burton’s 11 cents per vote.

    Apparently, Mr. Burton not only wanted to clean up the Marin Courts, he wants to clean up the AOC as well. Good for him and the public he represents.

  97. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I’m also amused to hear “God’s Bench” down in San Diego county didn’t manage to seat a single candidate.

  98. Claire Voyant

    Using God as a sponsor without substance is not always effective. Usually it’s a surprise who can win and ultimately a horse race (see below examples)

    Riverside DA Incumbent Bested by Judge
    [Cheryl Miller]

    The suspense ended early in the AG races last night, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any eye-popping upsets around the state.

    In Riverside County, incumbent DA Rod Pacheco — often talked of as a future Republican AG candidate — lost his re-election bid to Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach. Zellerbach took a leave of absence from the bench to run for Pacheco’s job. You might remember Zellerbach as the judge who was zinged by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2006 for refusing to leave an Anaheim Angels playoff game to take a jury’s verdict in homicide case.

    And in the GOP insurance commissioner primary, Brian Fitzgerald, a low-funded, relatively unknown staff attorney in the Department of Insurance, defeated favorite and former Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines in what was the statewide shocker of the night. The Sacramento Bee ran a nice piece on the then-quixotic candidate last week.

    • Chuck Horan

      I join CompouterGeek in urging all of you to check out the KGO piece. It runs about 4 minutes and is very up to date, and includes information about the recent privacy breach of the Sacramento Superior court’s data.

  99. Claire Voyant

    Ron Overholt referring to a server as a “box” tells you everything that you need to know about how little he knows. People who work with the Legislature think this guy comes across as a used car salesman from Fargo. Good night nurse.

    • I agree that Mr. Overholt could benefit from education about modern computers and the writing of modern software but if he were to contact me and ask for help, I would give it to him without reservation. A solution has to be done for the good of the justice system and personalities and past mistakes are best left out. I take no political sides on this and just want to help.

    • Wendy Darling

      Judge White and Judge Gilliyard are to be commended for their courage is speaking out, being truthful, and for standing up to the Judicial Council and the AOC. And the people of the State of California should be profoundly thankful to Judge White and Judge Gilliyard for doing so and for honoring the duty of their public offices and the robes they wear.

      If Ron Overholt can actually think (which is highly questionable in itself) maybe he should start thinking “outside the box”.

      And as for Overholt’s insistence that the Sacramento court not go to its own server and instead “should work with us” to make CCMS “work”, isn’t the definition of insanity repeating the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result?

      • Putting the CCMS software on a local server would only solve a tiny fraction of the problems with CCMS in any case.

      • Wendy Darling

        In order to fix a problem, you first have to acknowledge that there actually is a problem that needs fixing … a fact that apparently is completely beyond the comprehension of the office of the current Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and the AOC.

        Published today, Thursday, June 10, 2010, in the daily AOC e-news, from Amy Yarbrough and The Daily Journal:

        Daily News Clips from the Office of Communications & Office of Governmental Affairs Administrative Office of the Courts 6/10/10

        Glitch Shutters Court Record System

        Problems with new computer system allow public to view confidential records

        By Amy Yarbrough
        Daily Journal

        SAN FRANCISCO – Court officials on Wednesday had to shut down public access to Sacramento County Superior Court’s computerized records after finding – for the second time in less than a week – that confidential information was publicly available.

        The glitch came the same day the Sacramento court’s presiding judge demanded an apology from state court administrators he says wrongly blamed his staff for last week’s system error that made confidential records public.

        In his letter, Presiding Judge Steve White accuses Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Philip Carrizosa of giving bad information to The Recorder, which ran a story after the court discovered the security breach in its version of the California Court Case Management System, a statewide project.

        “I am troubled that the AOC representative gave the media false and misleading information concerning this matter,” White wrote to Administrative Director of the Courts William Vickrey. “I am also troubled he so cavalierly dismissed the breach of confidential court records by saying, ‘We don’t know that any members of the public looked at this stuff.’ We view confidential court records as more than ‘stuff’ and I think you do as well.”

        Carrizosa declined to comment on White’s letter but sent the Daily Journal a copy of a letter to the editor he submitted to The Recorder, in which he wrote that the issue was mischaracterized by the newspaper as a blame game.

        Court officials and staff from Deloitte, which is building the statewide computer system, spent the weekend working to solve the problem and to notify litigants whose information was released. Discovered Friday, the glitch made sealed probate information viewable through the court’s public kiosks, including social security information and bank records, White said.

        The court had to turn off the system Wednesday after discovering another security problem – that notes between legal research attorneys were also viewable, said the Sacramento court’s executive officer, Dennis Jones.

        According to White, the problem arose because of recent changes Deloitte made to the system, which his court’s employees were unaware of until after discovering the security problems.

        White’s letter was the latest jab against the agency for CCMS, a project years overdue and, according to some AOC projections, expected to cost up to $1.75 billion at completion. Judges have been particularly critical of spending on the system, since the Judicial Council voted last fall to shutter courthouses one extra day a month to save money.

  100. If you look closely, you will realize one of the computer screens shown must be from Fresno, not Sacramento.

  101. On closer examination of the video, and comparing the clothing and hair of the clerk, it would appear this screen pertained to a case in Judge Gilliard’s courtroom, Dept. 12, in Sacramento, which would mean that Sacramento has jumped into using CCMS for criminal cases, although the recent CIO report shows them only using it for civil and probate. The screen display appears typical for software created in the 1980’s.

  102. Chuck Horan

    This is apparently what passes for an apology at the AOC: Blame the reporter for saying you blamed Sacramento.

    Letter to the Editor: Blame Not the Issue on Data Breach, AOC Spokesman Says
    The Recorder
    June 09, 2010

    I would like to clarify a June 7 story ( “AOC Blames Data Breach on Local Court” ) that mischaracterizes the reasons behind the unauthorized release of case information on public kiosks in the Sacramento court. The story has been cast as one of blame. It would be more accurate to say that the release of information occurred because of the combination of two factors: the interface used between Sacramento’s document management system and CCMS, and Deloitte’s latest release of the case management system used by Sacramento and five other courts. Once the problem was discovered, court personnel from Sacramento and staff members from the AOC and Deloitte worked collaboratively over the past weekend to uncover the source of the problem and to create the necessary software to fix the release. This is the kind of collaboration that will enable the judicial branch to successfully implement a statewide case management system.
    Philip Carrizosa
    Administrative Office of the Courts
    San Francisco

  103. Regarding the fuss made over letters of recommendation for AOC employee John Larson (applicant, Citizen’s Redistricting Commission): Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that many of the letters of recommendation for other commission applicants available for review at do not include original signatures? Perhaps those filing the recommendations requested a redaction so that their original signatures would not be available to every crook trolling the Internet. Likewise, I notice other letters of recommendation posted at have been written on official government agency letterhead (check out applicants Kandi Lancaster, Tim S. LaFranchi). It only took me ten minutes time to discover the foregoing, so why such a stink about Mr. Larson? I’m a long-timer at the AOC, and certainly no fan of our administration in these discouraging times, but the fuss over Larson’s letters just doesn’t hold water for me.

    • Just Sayin'


    • Special Prosecutor

      My concern with the letters from John Larson are two-fold:

      I am informed that anyone who wants to get a letter out from the Executive Office must go through a rigorous editing process and get approvals from their Director. Mr. Larson used Dianne Bolotte for his letter so he could skp this process (but he still felt fine having the Chief Justice on his letterhead). You can tell it has not gone through editing because it’s full of typos and looks like an idiot wrote it.

      My other concern is that his second letter is from an employee that he supervises. Now perhaps he is too lazy to find these people for signatures, but in any event, those are my concerns. Just sayin’.

  104. Wendy Darling

    The debacle with CCMS, the AOC, and the Sacramento Court continues … the disclosure and access of confidential information on public access computers has now happened at the Sacramento Court for a second time.

    For those without access to the Daily Journal, published today, Thursday, June 10, 2010, in the AOC e-news:

    Daily News Clips from the Office of Communications & Office of Governmental Affairs Administrative Office of the Courts 6/10/10

    Glitch Shutters Court Record System
    Problems with new computer system allow public to view confidential records

    By Amy Yarbrough
    Daily Journal

    SAN FRANCISCO – Court officials on Wednesday had to shut down public access to Sacramento County Superior Court’s computerized records after finding – for the second time in less than a week – that confidential information was publicly available.

    The glitch came the same day the Sacramento court’s presiding judge demanded an apology from state court administrators he says wrongly blamed his staff for last week’s system error that made confidential records public.

    In his letter, Presiding Judge Steve White accuses Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Philip Carrizosa of giving bad information to The Recorder, which ran a story after the court discovered the security breach in its version of the California Court Case Management System, a statewide project.

    “I am troubled that the AOC representative gave the media false and misleading information concerning this matter,” White wrote to Administrative Director of the Courts William Vickrey. “I am also troubled he so cavalierly dismissed the breach of confidential court records by saying, ‘We don’t know that any members of the public looked at this stuff.’ We view confidential court records as more than ‘stuff’ and I think you do as well.”

    Carrizosa declined to comment on White’s letter but sent the Daily Journal a copy of a letter to the editor he submitted to The Recorder, in which he wrote that the issue was mischaracterized by the newspaper as a blame game.

    Court officials and staff from Deloitte, which is building the statewide computer system, spent the weekend working to solve the problem and to notify litigants whose information was released. Discovered Friday, the glitch made sealed probate information viewable through the court’s public kiosks, including social security information and bank records, White said.

    The court had to turn off the system Wednesday after discovering another security problem – that notes between legal research attorneys were also viewable, said the Sacramento court’s executive officer, Dennis Jones.

    According to White, the problem arose because of recent changes Deloitte made to the system, which his court’s employees were unaware of until after discovering the security problems.

    White’s letter was the latest jab against the agency for CCMS, a project years overdue and, according to some AOC projections, expected to cost up to $1.75 billion at completion. Judges have been particularly critical of spending on the system, since the Judicial Council voted last fall to shutter courthouses one extra day a month to save money.

  105. Chuck Horan

    Thanks, Wendy D. This is an important story, as is the Vic Lee piece last night.

    Most important even than the security breach is the way that Judge Steve White continues to stand up against the AOC and the clearly flawed “directive” from the E and P committee chair. Judge White is not afraid to speak out on behalf of his court and do the right thing. This type of response to continual council/AOC overreaching is altogether too rare, unfortunately. More often the only response to the command to “Jump!” is simply: “How high?”

    Over the years we have become quite accustomed to the “divide and conquer” strategy employed against the 58 courts. We all know the drill–marginalize and isolate, right?
    All that it would take for it to stop would be actions like those of Judge White repeated by even 1/4 of our state’s presiding judges.

    If they give out another “Chrystal Gavel” award around here, I suggest that a worthy recipient can be found in Sacramento.

    • Chuck Horan

      Sorry for the typos above. Make second paragraph begin with: “More important even…”

      I’ll add the following: I wish I could tell you how many presiding judges across the state have privately said “Wow, Steve is right on the money–wish I could speak out but…”

      That’s OK. Courage wouldn’t be worth much if everyone had it.

  106. Claire Voyant

    I am truly shocked at how inept the AOC is being right now with press and interactions with the media.

    As someone who used to work for Ken Kann, I feel some compassion that John Larson has been dragged into the fray in the never ending thread roadkill. But honestly oldtimer, the less said about that letter, and using Dianne Bolotte as a reference, the better.

  107. Wendy Darling

    Hello Judge Horan,

    And welcome back. We have missed you posting here, as well as your valuable insight and voice of guidance.

    As I have already said above, Judge White and Judge Gilliyard are to be commended for their courage is speaking out, being truthful, and for standing up to the Judicial Council and the AOC. And the people of the State of California should be profoundly thankful to Judge White and Judge Gilliyard for doing so and for honoring the duty of their public offices and the robes they wear.

    If Ron Overholt can actually think (which is highly questionable in itself) maybe he should start thinking “outside the box”.

    And as for Overholt’s insistence that the Sacramento court not go to its own server and instead “should work with us” to make CCMS “work”, isn’t the definition of insanity repeating the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result?

    And now this has happened — again. It’s like a horrific version of Groundhog Day, without any of the humor, and at the cost of billions of dollars of wasted taxpayer money and the continuing destruction of the credibility and public confidence in the California Judicial Branch. Shameful it is.

  108. Chuck Horan

    Claire Voyant, ditto. Given what I’ve seen here, the letter is not even worth a mention. IMHO

    I agree with your observation re: AOC interactions with the media, but I’m not shocked. For the past year or more, it has been one gaffe after another.

    Their problems, though, go far far beyond mere perceptions or the bungling of press relations, or the obvious and lame attempts at spin. Though some on the council, including its chair, have stated that the problem is simply one of misperception, the problem REALLY is that the more people learn about the way the AOC is run, the less they like it. That is a plain fact.

  109. Claire Voyant

    CH – The AOC has lost touch with how to communicate with the courts. You have Lynn Holton who is afraid of her shadow, and you have Philip Carrizosa who is brazenly going where no sane man would go (into the fray as a shrill ninny who doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about). Then you have Ron Overholt giving television interviews and looking like a twitchy guilty man. You have a new lawsuit that is coherent and naming names. It’s a complete meltdown.

    But the AOC is in a little bubble where they think no one is really noticing and it will all be okay someday? I have no idea what their strategy is or their big picture idea is for change. The CJ needs to clean house and get new people who know how to protect the branch and can talk to the courts — and the media. It’s not rocket science, PIOs have to do it all the time up and down the state. If he won’t do it, voters should kick him out of the job in November.

    • Chuck Horan

      They have no strategy for change because they do not perceive any need to change. They figure they have the power, and will continue business as usual and hope to weather the storm. If anyone thought for one single second that the Chief justice would take the bull by the horns and initiate any meaningful reform, they need only look at the names of his recent judicial council picks. That charts the course for the next several years.

      Many are retread council members who have never even THOUGHT of voting “No” at a council meeting, and several others have already earned solid reputations as people that will never speak a word ill of the system or take a position contrary to that of the chief. (What is laughable about these new picks is that they put the lie once and for all to the chief’s oft-repeated argument that democratization of the council must be resisted due to “diversity” concerns. Go to the council web site and check ’em out.)

      Cosmetic changes like the supposed new “oversight committee” or whatever they will call it are just a bad joke. No one in the branch will buy it, though the uninitiated may be fooled for a while. For whatever reason, the chief has failed to announce the name of his appointees, though the announcement was promised weeks ago. Don’t worry, rest assured that the names will be familiar…I’ll be most of you could figure out over half the names right now.

      Your “bubble” analogy is right on the money.

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        Any oversight committee is window dressing. AOC employees will not be able to go to any oversight committee with their fraud, waste and abuse concerns.

        Instead, the broken process of taking ones’ concerns to the office of the fraud, waste and abuse coordinator so that fraud, waste and abuse can be coordinated, a defense formulated, evidence buried and caring, concerned employees marked for termination will continue unabated. Allegations of wrongdoing will be required to come only from the office of the fraud, waste and abuse coordinator like some sick badge of honor and trust, where none is warranted.

        As the Chief Justice has ignored the many people before Paul, Uruquart and Negley, the judicial council oversight committee too will be prohibited to take up any case not forwarded to them via the coordinator of fraud, waste and abuse.

        P.T Barnum stayed in business because there was a new sucker born every minute. Similarly, the Chief Justice is counting on those same suckers to buy the snake oil he is selling about an oversight committee and actually doing anything about AOC impropriety.

        And for all you budget-starved courts that had to lay off people in the last year, I’m sure it will be comforting to know the AOC is doing its typical year-end sweep of accounting codes as a method to fund new toys such as iPads and associated wireless infrastructure in AOC headquarters to support the new toys.

        Or maybe it will be swept into new look-like undercover cars, glocks, sniper rifles, M-4’s with M203 grenade launchers and cases of ammunition for Vickery’s new executive protection team.

        (When one creates this much animousity amongst the 20,000 employees of California’s Judicial Branch, someone is bound to go postal after all)

        And if you’re a trial court starving for adequate funding, you can eat cake. You made your bed, you can sleep in it. We, the AOC control your purse strings so step in line or pay the price.

  110. Judge Horan’s posting is so profound….the “strategy” is No Strategy Necessary other than weather-the-storm. The oversight committee is worse than a joke, it is an insult to the people of California.

    I am more certain each and every day that a Judicial Initiative with a bundle of necessitated changes to our system is the only route to a profound turnaround. The heart of the initiative should be a new statement of judicial immunity….let’s give the voters of the State, who also happen to be the same people exposed to our broken, corrupt legal system, a chance —–

  111. huummm. This all vaguely reminds me of the great movie of the early 60’s, the Manchurian canidate. The “missperceptions”, what happens to those who challenge the new regime…think about it. Maybe a force will snap out them out of their brainwashing and playing along (hello judges?) and take out the leaders of the plot that plan to destroy our democratic system (the judical branch), no matter the cost to themselves, to save the branch for the better good. That no matter how much they are afraid, brainwashed or just playing along, the democratic ideals ingrained in them will eventually take hold and prevail.
    Ha! I must have just had a Justice California wet dream.

    • JusticeCalifornia

      Courtflea, you know me well. . .

      My dream starts with a successful Dump Ron George campaign. . . . .star spangled bumper stickers, pins, posters. . ..all over the place. . ..saying Dump Ron George, Dump Ron George, with a big thumbs down. . . .I can see it now. . .up with justice, down with Ron George. . .
      yes. . .yes

      sorry y’all, I got a little carried away. . .

      • I said a long time ago to wake me when something actually happens. Apparently we are all still dreaming. And I will ask again if the Alliance of CA Judges has seen a surge in membership. Until the judges step up and grow a spine en masse, or until this malfeasance makes front-page headlines, the local courts will continue to suffer and the JC/AOC will continue to abuse their power and taxpayer money. Where have all the cowboys gone?

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        If it’s any indication of things to come, is a registered domain name.

  112. Is there any organized campaign to get people to vote against Ron and/or Ming?

    Also, the California State Auditor did the brush-off today to thousands of applicants to the California Redistricting Commission. You do not need to worry about the power of the Chief Justice’s name … it did not help the applicant. He was rejected along with thousands of other Californians in one fell swoop with a callous and inappropriate mass dumping.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Of course I posted in the wrong place. is a registered domain name if its any indication of the near future.

      • I don’t know what the pulse is among court leadership know in California, but this is something that the Chief Justice and Justice Ming Chin should be aware of. If you have a growing number of judges angry at the Chief Justice — for allowing the judicial branch to be ridiculed in the press or before the Legislature, for ignoring civil rights, for tolerating unethical or criminal activity at the AOC, take your pick — it is a logical step for it to spill over into the general population. The judiciary right now is a lightining rod — some group will capitalize on all of this misfortune.

        And I don’t know who started this space, but it’s wonderful for people throughout the courts and the AOC to hear from bench officers, professionals and line staff. Even if it’s just capturing moods and high level info everyone should know, it’s very progressive. Mazel tov.

      • JusticeCalifornia

        Obi, do tell.

        Is this website (or incipient website) like this? And, can public documents/writings/articles be posted, to allow voters to see what Chief Big Ron and his Little Chief Chin have done–or not?

  113. Claire Voyant

    CH – does ACJ/CJA have a formal position on the retention of George and Chin? And are there any plans to get your own communications vehicle, since this one is dormant or dead?

    I also don’t recall hearing what CJA decided regarding Sacramento (who is the top dog … E&P or the local court?). Can you let people know what was decided, if anything? Thanks CV

    • Chuck Horan

      The ACJ has not taken a formal position on the retention either candidate.

      ACJ has been vocal in the fight for Sacramento, as you may know. We have contacted all 58 of the state’s presiding judges and asked them to support Judge White. Further, we have contacted each member of the judicial council, including the Chief and Justice Huffman, and the secretary to the council Mr. Vickrey protesting in the strongest terms the actions of Justice Huffman and his committee.
      Further, we have formally invited CJA to join us in this condemnation. CJA, the group that calls itself “the voice of the judiciary” (as does the chief) has been….silent.

      ACJ, unlike CJA, charges no dues and employs no lobbyist. The work of the organization is strictly done by its directors and volunteer members. We are full time actual working judges. Nonetheless, we have travelled repeatedly to San Francisco and Sacramento, at our own expense, spreading the word about what we believe. We are in for the long haul, friend. We now number close to 250 judges and justices. You might be surprised at the names of some of our members–I’m sure the AOC would be. lol

      Patience is a virtue. ACJ, along with many of you, and this blog, have been responsible for a number of positive changes that I won’t reiterate here. We do what we can do within our ethical constraints, which includes not commenting on pending cases. Unfortunately, this rule precludes much discussion as you might well imagine, as the AOC somehow continually finds itself in all manner of quite, uh, interesting litigation.

      I agree that a strong dose of fortitude is needed.
      You can all help. Those of you who know judges might mention that it is a simple matter to join ACJ. Just email, identify yourself and your preferred contact email address, and that’s all there is to it.

      No one should be pessimistic, but no one should expect overnight success. I’ve said it many times, but it is true–judges sat back for years and allowed this debacle to develop, and allowed this simply unacceptable concentration of power to take hold. The situation will not be completely reversed for several years. It will happen, though, of that I am quite certain.

      This blog, you rightly point out, has become a bit moribund (is that the right word?) of late.
      Several quite tangential and/or very narrow concerns seem to have surfaced. Further, AOCWatcher is apparently on extended leave. lol I can only hope for his/her/their return and a revitalization of the posted topics.

      • Chuck Horan

        Claire, here’s a text copy of what went to the Judicial Council members. If you or anyone else would like the attachments referred to in the letter, or the letter we sent to CJA, just email me at and I will forward them to you.

        Alliance of California Judges
        P.O. Box 2513
        Bakersfield, California 93311

        Tia Fisher
        Mark R. Forcum
        Maryanne Gilliard
        Daniel B. Goldstein
        W. Kent Hamlin
        Dodie A. Harman
        Thomas E. Hollenhorst
        Charles Horan
        David R. Lampe
        Lisa Schall
        Andrew P. Banks

        May 21, 2010

        To Members of the California Judicial Council

        Re: May 11, 2010 Letter to Sacramento Superior Court

        We are writing this letter to express, with the strongest sentiment possible, our objection to the letter of May 11, 2010 sent by the Chair of the Executive and Planning Committee to Presiding Judge Steve White of the Sacramento Superior Court. That letter asserts that the Executive and Planning Committee is acting on behalf of the Judicial Council pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 10.11(a). That letter improperly asserts an unconstitutional authority by an arm of the Judicial Council over an independent and autonomous constitutional California trial court to the extent it purports to direct the Sacramento Superior Court regarding its data management.

        We are also especially concerned because it appears from the typed initials on the document that it was at least co-authored by general counsel to the AOC.

        The Judicial Council does not govern the trial courts. The Judicial Council’s grant of constitutional authority is limited. Article VI, Section 6(d) provides only as follows: “To improve the administration of justice the council shall survey judicial business and make recommendations to the courts (emphasis added), make recommendations annually to the Governor and Legislature, adopt rules for court administration, practice and procedure, and perform other functions prescribed by statute. The rules adopted shall not be inconsistent with statute.”

        Article VI, section 4 of the Constitution establishes the superior courts of the state. Government Code section 77001 mandates that local trial courts have the exclusive authority to manage their day-to-day operations. Trial courts have constitutional and statutory autonomy. The Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 also provides that trial courts must have flexibility in the management of their affairs. The May 11 letter’s citation to articleVI, section 6(f), and Government Code section 68505 are not authority for any different proposition.

        The statutory and constitutional scheme for the Judiciary provide for a system of divided sovereignty, cooperation, and mutual assent between the Judicial Council and the trial courts.

        We ask that the Judicial Council rescind the May 11, 2010 letter as a directive.

        This May 11 letter once again exposes a serious problem with respect to the governance of the judiciary which our Alliance has repeatedly pointed out. In the findings and declarations by the Legislature in adopting the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 (AB 233),the Legislature stated in Sec. 3 (l) that the Judicial Council was to adopt a Trial Courts Bill of Financial Management Rights, to be approved no later than January 1, 1998. As you are aware,
        the Judicial Council has ignored this directive and never carried it out. The time is long overdue for this Council to prepare and circulate a proposed Trial Court Bill of Rights.

        Turning to CCMS itself, the reference in the May 11 letter to the OCIO’s report is a selective and misleading reading. Although the OCIO report recognized the overall benefit of standardization, the report also appropriately recognized that “[t]he governance plan for CCMS should be augmented to ensure the commitment of the county superior courts to adopt and use the system.” This latter point raises a concern that we have previously addressed to the AOC in correspondence with Mr. Stephen Nash.

        In the recent April 2010 Status Report to the Legislature on CCMS and the Phoenix Project, the Administrative Office of the Court reported a combined actual and estimated expenditure through the end of fiscal 2010 for CCMS in the amount of approximately $477 million. Of that amount, $133 million was to have been expended from the Trial Court Trust Fund. The amount of $72.4 million was estimated for CCMS from the Modernization Fund, and the amount of $202 million is estimated from the Trial Court Improvement Fund.

        We have had a course of correspondence with Stephen Nash, AOC Finance Director, beginning with our correspondence of October 21, 2009, to which he replied on November 23,2009. In a December 7, 2009 letter to back to him, we asked some questions about statutory funding authority. Mr. Nash replied on January 15, 2010. Copies of all of this correspondence are enclosed. We presume that the Judicial Council members have all been previously apprised of this course of correspondence.

        We questioned and still question whether these expenditures meet the requirements of statutory authorization and whether CCMS expenditures have exceeded statutory funding authorization. It appears to us that neither the Judicial Council nor the Legislature was ever presented with any clear proposal that outlined the exact scope and projected cost of CCMS.

        The Trial Court Trust Fund is established pursuant to Government Code section 68085. That section requires the apportionment of its proceeds for the purposes stated in that section, including apportionment to the trial courts only to fund “trial court operations” as defined by section 77003, which does not include technology expenditures.

        Section 68085 (in subsections (a)(2)(A) and (B)) further provides for direct payment or reimbursement to the Administrative Office of the Courts to fund the costs of operating one or more trial courts (including “any expenses related to the operation of the court or performance of its functions, including, but not limited to, statewide administrative and information technology infrastructure supporting the courts”). Under these subsections, disbursement from the TCTF is not limited to the purposes set forth in section 77003. However, payments and reimbursements from the TCTF not limited to “court operations” under section 77003, may only be made “upon the consent of the participating courts.” (See § 68085(a)(2)(A).)

        We do not believe that the express consent of the trial courts has been obtained to authorize expenditures from the Trial Court Trust Fund for CCMS. Mr. Nash, on behalf of the AOC, agrees that consent of the trial courts is required, but he asserts that it has been obtained because no court objected. We doubt that trial courts would agree that they have expressly consented, merely because they did not expressly object, or because they had judges or staff attending forums or participating in appointed committees.

        As to the funds allocated from the Trial Court Improvement Fund, that fund is established pursuant to Government Code section 77209. That section requires that the 2% “automation fund” revenues under section 68090.8 paid into the TCIF be devoted to statewide initiatives for the development of automated administrative systems. We assume that CCMS is authorized in part by section 68090.8. That section requires that during the development phase of any such system, prior to implementation, and as an apparent condition of implementation, that the Legislature shall make recommendations to the Judicial Council as to the breadth and level of detail of the data to be collected.

        Mr. Nash disagrees that section 68090.8 is the statutory authorization for the project, but only provides for a funding source. He states that it is a failure of the Legislature to provide its recommendations, and that failure does not limit proceeding with the project. He states that this report was in any case limited to data collection. We are not sure that the Legislature would agree with Mr. Nash on these points.

        Further, as to the TCIF, the 2% automation fund must be allocated to the section 68090.8 program. However, it would appear that revenues from the 2% automation fund have been far less than the money that has been allocated for CCMS. It appears that the Judicial Council is not limited to the 2% automation fund under section 77209, and may apply additional funds for CCMS, if it is a project “approved by the Judicial Council.” We question whether the scope and cost of the CCMS project has ever been approved by the Judicial Council. Mr. Nash points to a number of minutes of meetings where he contends that approval was obtained, but it does not appear that the full scope of the project and its entire budget was ever presented and approved.

        The same issue arises as to allocations from the Administration Efficiency and Modernization Fund. This fund is established by Government Code section 77213. This section provides broad authority to the Judicial Council to allocate from the fund for projects “approved by the Judicial Council.”

        We have a concern as constitutional judicial officers for the issue of lawful appropriation that is implicit in the question of lack of consent by the trial courts, and apparent failure of express approval by the Judicial Council of a specific budgeted project. We presume that each member of the Judicial Council has previously been fully advised by counsel of the premises
        underlying appropriations for CCMS.

        We urge the following:

        1. That the Judicial Council explicitly rescind the May 11, 2010 letter as a directive to the Sacramento Superior Court.

        2. That the Judicial Council suspend all further payments and funding of CCMS, including rescinding existing but unencumbered allocations, until the following is accomplished:
        A. That the pending audit of the project by the State Auditor be

        B. That a specific funding source be identified.

        C. That the AOC present a detailed further plan and actual budget for the deployment of CCMS taking into account the recommendations of the OCIO and findings of the State Auditor, and submit it to each trial court for each court to be surveyed and, to the extent that the TCTF is proposed as a source of funding, to register its express consent as a participating court pursuant section 68085 to further future appropriation of its share of the TCTF for CCMS development, or to decline.

        D. That the AOC thereafter present a detailed revised plan and actual budget for the deployment of CCMS, taking account the consent or lack of consent of the trial courts determined after survey, for express vote of the Judicial Council as an approved project.

        E. That the AOC present a plan for reimbursement of operational funds to courts who have never expressly consented to the appropriation of their share of TCTF money for CCMS deployment for their pro rata share of TCTF funds already expended.

        F. That as to non-consenting courts, the AOC provide for rules and recommendations to ensure that if any non-participating court revises or changes its information technology systems in the future, that such changes are compatible with a statewide system so that, on a long-term basis, the ultimate goal of CCMS for compatible statewide data exchange may be accomplished.


        Directors of the Alliance of California Judges

  114. Claire Voyant

    Thank you Judge Horan with the update.

    Something that both judges and people at the AOC and the courts need to remember is this – nonlawyers or nonjudges will never be smarter than lawyers or judges. Either the CJ and AOC opens up communication corridors with members of the bench or he will continue to suffer. You have lawyers now working with bench officers to take down the AOC. I agree that some of the issues get tangential but that’s because people work in a crazy settting (where Manager A can cut corners here, but Nonmanager B has to follow the book and is constantly punished). The Michael Paul suit is a classic story of what happened in one division, but there are several divisions at the AOC with similar if not worse coverups. Start thinking about that frightening reality.

    • CV

      >>nonlawyers or nonjudges will never be smarter than lawyers or judges.<<

      Surely you jest. I have appreciated your previous posts. But you put your whole credibility on the line with such an asinine assertion.

      • Claire Voyant

        This is my opinion regarding legal matters (when you have a Bob Emerson or a Dianne Bolotte giving advice that is actually legal advice that is incorrect). I meant no offense to people who are smart, just those who think that the level of incompetence they have risen to somehow provides them with immunity from the law. When you assume Delilah, you make an ass of u and me.

  115. Wendy Darling

    Speaking of an unacceptable concentration of power, it was another banner week of “hostile work environment” in the AOC’s HR Division. Courtesy of the current HR Director and Assistant HR Director (yes, that would again be Ernesto Fuentes and Kenneth Couch) approximately a dozen line staff HR employees were abruptly informed/ordered by senior HR management that they were being transferred out of their jobs and/or “reassigned”, whether or not they wanted to be transferred and/or reassigned, and whether or not they liked what was being done to them. Some select minions of Fuentes and Couch were also given “training and development” assignments for managers so that Fuentes and Couch can cover the promotions Furnetes and Couch want to give them in a couple of months. You have to wonder at the qualifications and caliber of a manager when they have to be put on a training and development plan to train them to be a manager, especially given the toxic management style of the current AOC HR Director and Assistant Director. And the tyranny in the HR Division continues …

    Meanwhile, back at the CCMS debacle involving the Sacramento court, or as it is now being referred to in the media, the CCMS “SNAFU” at the Sacramento Court, here is the latest from Cheryl Miller at the The Daily Recorder, published today, June 11, 2010, in the AOC e-news:

    Daily News Clips from the Office of Communications & Office of Governmental Affairs Administrative Office of the Courts 6/11/10

    Court Data Snafu Story Picks Up Steam

    Cheryl Miller
    The Recorder and

    SACRAMENTO — A television station in the Administrative Office of the Courts’ backyard has picked up on the major computer snafu that recently exposed hundreds of sensitive documents to public view in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

    KGO-TV in San Francisco aired this report Wednesday about the controversial Court Case Management System or CCMS.

    New information provided by Sacramento court officials reveals that a court probate attorney first flagged the problem on Monday, May 24. Court leaders have not yet explained, however, why they did not bar public access to the computer system until June 4.

    An ongoing court investigation concluded that at least two documents related to a 2003 case were opened, one at 3:54 p.m. and one at 4:01 p.m., on the public kiosk on Tuesday, May 25. One was a confidential probate guardian screening form and the other was a probate investigator’s report.

    “At this point we are investigating whether it was a court employee who made the access to check and see whether in fact confidential documents were viewable by the public,” court public information officer Ginger Sylvester said in an e-mail.

    The privacy breach made 433 confidential documents available for public viewing, according to the court’s investigation. On Wednesday, court technicians also discovered that, despite work to fix the problem, the computer system was still revealing 381 private communications among court clerks, judges and legal research attorneys. Workers are still trying to determine how many, if any, of those case notes were accessed.

    Public kiosks and case access through the court’s website remained closed Thursday.

    Sylvester said the court will notify parties whose personal information may have been viewed after technicians complete their investigation.

    Family law and probate attorneys contacted by The Recorder this week said they were unaware of the breach. Edward Howard, senior counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Institute, said the news is troubling.

    “Lots of lawyers go on the web now for case updates. Lawyers are on those websites all the time,” he said. “The point is, at least with kids’ records, those are, and should be, the most carefully guarded documents in the court system.”

    Local court leaders have blamed the breach squarely on the Administrative Office of the Courts and Deloitte Consulting, the vendor hired to develop what is expected to be a statewide computer network for the judicial branch. Court IT workers say a Deloitte-initiated CCMS update on May 17 inadvertently stripped the Sacramento court’s confidentiality shield.

    On Monday, an AOC spokesman seemed to dispute that, prompting an angry letter from the Sacramento PJ, which was followed by a recalibrated AOC statement.

    “This problem was caused entirely as the result of actions by the AOC contractor, Deloitte, which did not even inform our court of the changes it made or the resulting problem,” Sylvester said Wednesday. “Our court made no changes to any program or data. We were left to discover on our own what they had done.”

    • Claire Voyant

      WD – How can Ernesto Fuentes give promotions when other divisions have been told there is no room for advancement? At a certain point, does it cross over into territory where AOC employees can begin filing complaints with the EEOC? This is where I find the other AOC Directors completely shameful, for not telling Bill Vickrey or Ron Overholt that they are being set up for more and more litigation by AOC employees (both inside and outside of HR).

      • Wendy Darling

        The only thing filing a complaint with the EEOC will result in for an AOC HR employee is … unemployment.

      • Claire Voyant

        This is something that I find so shameful for an agency that is meant to support the work of the courts and access to justice — AOC employees, whether it is within HR or EOP or somewhere else, are denied access to justice. Most attorneys in OGC put their heads in the sand, because they are so terrified that they will lose their own jobs, but it’s really shameful. You and your colleagues have my condolences Wendy. I do hold out hope that something changes soon.

        And by sheer virtue of traffic and interest, for the love of God, Beth Jay or James Carroll, tell the Chief to do something to fix this. He is the sole authority over the Administrative Director of the Courts. Be well everyone and keep up the pressure.

  116. Claire Voyant

    Oh, and I have to agree with Judge Judy. From a friend in southern California, and for our friends in the Legislature who read this blog, I found out how the California State Auditor handled rejecting thousands of people. You may want to call Elaine Howle next week and tell her that her that her office gang-banged people with a “comment chart” that was given to thousands of Californians on a Friday afternoon (full of code that doesn’t even have an explanation). If the Auditor is going to be high and mighty about the AOC and how they behave, Elaine Howle better be prepared to take it right back in the face.

  117. Yep Judge Horan, until we get new info this page has become moribund. However, it is still wonderful for me at least to hear from you bloggers that are still hanging on, Wendy, Claire, JC, Judge Dredd, and all of you!
    But Judge H, you know what all of those judges can do that still need time to help make changes in the branch? They can privately encourage their family and friends to vote against the retention of the CJ. It is possible without even saying a word if you know what I mean. The look, the knowing smile , the shaking of the head when someone asks. It is the least these judges can do. I am sorry Judge, but these Judges need to man up. Times are a changin and fast. Can we afford for the Judges of the State of California not to act? All I can say is that we are lucky that our CA judges were not depended on in trying times. They might be too afraid to lose their job on the bench. I am sorry but a lot of employees have manned up and even lost their jobs in order to expose the tyranny in the judicial branch.Many CEOs have lost all possibities for a future as a “star” in the CA judicial branch or elsewhere, by speaking out. I love judges but by now? Whatsup.

  118. This is an open letter to the AOC Watcher, my fellow members of the ACJ, the press, fellow boggers, and members of the Judicial Council and the AOC .

    It is important that the AOC Watcher keep this blog open. Because of this blog I was sent the certified IRS tax returns for the Shapiro Family Charitable Trust that showed that the AOC had received $76,500.00 from this Trust since 2002 but had never reported this to the FPCC nor had they ever reported it on their web site. On Febuary 16, 2010 I asked Mr. Vickrey for an accounting of this money. As of this date there has been no such accounting using numbers. This is an example of the power of this blog as without this blog this information never would have come to my attention but just have remained a rumor.

    I would ask that the AOC Watcher keep this blog open. It is a tremendous tool for truth and communication between folks who, but for this blog, would not know each other.

    Keeping this blog open means that we all need to concentrate on the mission of this blog: to watch the AOC. What power should they have? How have they handled the taxpayer money? What power are they seeking to obtain without the permission of the Judicial Council or the Legislature? What do they do and how do they do it?

    Since the AOC is controlled by the Judicial Council and the Judicial Council is controlled by the Chief Justice it naturally follows that an examination and questioning of the AOC means a questioning of the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council. This is the proper focus of this blog. The examination and questioning of these individuals and organizations should be done with respect but without fear of asking the hard questions and getting honest and prompt anwers.

    Many of you out there would like to talk about things that you feel strongly about but are not the proper subjects of this blog. Such as whether or not the judges in LA should be paid more than the judges in some other counties; should Mr. Fine be in jail; should we have visiting judges; should judges have judicial immunity and so forth.

    An example of how we lose focus is in front of all of us. There are 211 comments on the subject of the settlement of a lawsuit between the AOC and the Whistleblower which is the latest entry on this blog. Very few of these 211 comments are related to this lawsuit(including some of mine).

    I urge all of you who are judges to post under your real name ( Here I want to give a special thanks to my friend Chuck Horan. Please read his materials directly above this post). As an alternative continue posting under your “traveling name” as I know a number of you are doing.

    Democracy is a messy business. Restraint is needed. Please focus on the issues at hand. As difficult as it is when you are using your real names try not to fall to the level of some who call judges by their incorrect title, call other judges “clowns”, “misinformed”, “shrill” and so forth.

    A final comment: even if the AOC Watcher folds this blog up it has changed the political landscape of California. Thank you. And thanks to Jack Urquhart who has paid a high price for telling the public what the public had a right to know: how did the AOC spend money for the two and a half day conference on the financial crisis of the courts while enjoying fine wines, fine dinners, and fine accomodations plus the assistance of expensive facilitators to discuss what anyone with a room temperature IQ knew before they attended the conference: California is broke.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Here, here. Much is owed to both Jack and AOC Watcher as public servants who made sacrifices so that the truth would be known.

  119. Point taken, CV. Apologies. Back to lurker status.

  120. Not for Prophet

    I made a startling discovery last week while visiting the Seventh Floor of the AOC in SF and I would like to invite the following to be addressed:

    1. Why did the MGMT of the HR Division have ALL filing cabinets removed from an enclosed file storage room only to have the space replaced with a freakishly long custom built “Couch”?

    2. Following the arrival of the new “Couch”, why did the MGMT of the HR Division order that the entrance doors of the HR Division be LOCKED AT ALL TIMES and the receptionist completely removed so that there is no greeting area whatsoever? Think lockdown.

    3. Why do people in the surrounding area of HR tell me that they sometimes see people exiting HR looking as though they’ve been through HELL?

    4. Why are almost half of the HR DIVISION
    being intimidated and coerced into accepting unnatural OUT OF CLASS AND T&D ASSIGNMENTS that we all know will lead nowhere???? Is this simply an extension of the abuse that many believe has been occurring within the division for the past 5 years and that no one is doing a thing about?

    5. Two words: Negligent Retention. Those who have the ability to do something about this horrid situation but are pretending that it doesn’t exist need to chew on those two simple words. Bon Appetit!

  121. ConcernedReConsolidation

    Is there anyone out there who can begin an AOCWatcherII and begin different threads so that the discussions of the different points of interest can be more focused?

  122. Sensing that things are coming to a boil and the time is right, I have gone ahead and done serious development work on creating totally electronic trial court case records and associated technology. What I have created so far in prototype form takes care of all of the critical items mentioned by the Sacramento County Superior Court in their April 6th briefing. I have created the criminal portion of a case data management system. It features electronic verdicts, electronic pleadings, indexed standardized format transcripts of oral proceedings, indexed electronic exhibits, expandable electronic minutes, and even an electronic abstract that will correctly automatically add years and months in sentences to display the total in years and months. The portion which manages the general case identifying data features modular interlocking components. Each component has an embedded self-teaching tutorial. There are simple procedures for preparing the daily calendar for any department, including even heavy calendar departments. Data can easily be shared with another county. It can be analyzed by a local court, as Judge Gilliard wants to do. The data can be housed in each county on a server you can buy for less than $10,000. The system includes components for case initiation by the district attorney, public defender module, court clerk central database, transmission modules for transmitting modified data, tracking of cases by privately retained counsel, and tracking by probation officers. It takes into account protection of confidential data, data mirroring, pooled array searches, and retention of modern formatting for documents to be displayed on the Web such as tentative rulings. Filing of all electronic documents can be by Internet or Intranet. Standards are Excel and Word but word processing files in older formats such as WordPerfect can be accommodated. Users would be provided with many standardized preformatted Word & Excel templates, containing where appropriate embedded technology providing for various features including DDE 2.0 exchanges, embedded links, indexing with a few mouse clicks, etc.

    The resulting electronic record of a trial could be transmitted to a pub in Australia in minutes where Crocodile Dundee and his buddies could read it on a laptop computer over a pint.

    Other agencies such as CDCR could have – for the asking – modular interlocking database technology that would permit cross-access with the court system. It would be up to them whether to spend hundreds of millions on the SOMS project or just take the interlocking technology for free.

    To make a long story short, this technology totally runs rings around what has been done in the CCMS project in 8 years and after a half billion dollars. Now it’s up to the court system to decide what to do. Any superior court that seriously wants to take a look can try out the prototypes hands-on on my laptop computer.

  123. I would appreciate a forum called “California Judicial Branch.” Even if it’s not official, it would be a start. There are too many ideas happening in this one thread. Several of them are good, however, and I would hate to see them get lost. This case is dimissed. Can you call the next case please, madame clerk?

  124. And P.S.
    Using parallel technology in other areas of law, civil complaints, motions, etc., as well as probate pleadings, mental health pleadings and other documents, juvenile pleadings and other documents, as well as proposed jury instructions, digital evidence, and various other documents and images could all be filed or shared electronically with lawyers or their employees never having to leave their offices. Electronic fill-in forms, standardized 28-line templates, and other technology will permit this. Some forms can feature automatic calculation of math totals. I have such technology on my computer now and have used it for years, including nested calculations in Word documents in spite of the limitations on that stated by Microsoft. I may put a demonstration of that technology which is based on DDE 2.0 technology, VBA macro language, loop closing technology, and a few other little programming tricks, up on my Web site as one of my demonstrations.

  125. Charles Bronson

    Yes, someone please start an organized forum. There seem to be some very serious issues embedded above, and we don’t want to lose sight of those suffering!

  126. JusticeCalifornia

    It is wonderful that the ACJ has been formed and is seeking restraints and oversight on the unlimited power presently jealously guarded by a single man—Ron George—and his handpicked, compliant appointees.

    Judge Maino, Judge Horan: here is the problem. Those of us non-judges on the front lines are in hostile territory EVERY day. We see terrific harm being inflicted by members of the third branch upon those who dare to complain about patently unjust and sometimes patently illegal third branch activities, with the blessing and protection of top leadership. I, for one, see an opportunity for a coordinated swift attack, right now.

    The sharing of information, the connection of the dots, and the identification of common patterns and interests is a vital first step in effecting change in the third branch. I talk about Marin County because from the very first month I began practicing there, over a decade ago, I have witnessed a system of unabated cronyism and injustice the likes of which I had never seen in any other county. For years I have watched with amazement as cronyism and injustices have been protected, all the way up and down the line- by the CA appellate courts, the CA Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the CCP 170.1 assigned judges program, and the Judicial Council, all of which have at times churned out decisions, reports and recommendations that actively have covered up and protected third branch misconduct. I have watched Ron George select key players in Marin’s corrupt system of justice (Kim Turner, Lynn Duryee) to advise him, and carry out his plans – and, on this blog, I am watching what is happening in Marin County, be mirrored on a larger scale within the Judicial Council and AOC, regarding the legislative audits. Let me be frank. It is like watching an organized crime ring, funded by the taxpayers, with no oversight whatsoever. And who is ultimately responsible?

    I had the amazing luck to be able to attend that November 2006 Judicial Council Summit of Judicial Leaders. I was able to witness the unveiling of Ron George’s orchestrated blueprint for the future of the CA third branch. After that summit I wrote a series of articles warning of the concentrated power and lack of oversight George was fostering, and I wrote to the then-president of the state bar, warning that the integrity of the bench and bar was being compromised by George’s call for top bar members and public relations experts to protect and “act as mouthpieces” for the bench. Three years later, as the judicial branch was being attacked on all sides, at all levels, for corruption and mismanagement, I watched the Judicial Council, amidst jokes and giggles, accept the December 2009 Commission on Impartial Courts report – which was simply George’s 2006 blueprint, gift-wrapped by George’s hand-picked appointees. No effective oversight-accountability measures can be found in that document. Talk about being out of touch with reality. . . .

    I have said it before and I will say it again. Ron George has carefully set up a $4 billion empire that has no oversight. He keeps a lid on everything by surrounding himself with loyal followers (many of whom who have had a brush with scandal and are therefore compromised and malleable) who can be counted on to do what he wants.

    Change will not be effected until the emperor is dethroned. As far as I can tell, the opportunity to do that is right here, right now, with the 2010 retention elections. If anyone has a different opinion, please share, and explain why keeping George and Chin in will help, rather than hurt, the branch.

    More anon.

    • JusticeCalifornia

      Correction– change IS taking place, via the ACJ, the lawsuits, press coverage, public outcry, the demand for legislative oversight of the judicial branch– and of course every participant on this unprecedented blog.

      It would appear that unseating George and Chin would put change on the fast track, and create openings for responsible judicial leaders to step in and work from the inside.

  127. I hope this blog stays alive as well. While I may disagree with others and sometimes vocally, I like reading all types of postings. That’s what makes this blog great. A diverse group of folks with diverse opinions. Sure I wish the AOC watcher would keep posting up to date issues, but until then I think this is a great forum to exchange ideas, vent, share experiences, or whatever. Otherwise we would just all take our toys away and go home, never to be heard from again. Would’nt the AOC love that!
    However, change is painful. while I use an alias here, I manned up a lot in my career and I have the battle scars and career damage to prove it. Of course since I opposed the regime, I was considered a fool and an idiot to boot. But that is ok, I can live with myself because I at least tried. I think Jusice California is correct. The time now is for action, however how small, diplomatic or otherwise.
    Any dissention on this blog in my mind is among friends and collegues and is an acceptable way to continue to work together toward a common goal.

  128. Claire Voyant


    For people within the AOC, this thread is like the BP oil spill. It will remain a constant spreading nuisance because there is no other forum for freedom of expression — or communicating with your colleagues — in a safe forum (i.e., business hours).

    For JusticeCalifornia, it’s a way she can get Marin issues at the top of the focus of the Judicial Council. As long as this blog is up and is shoveling some true shit from side to side, one or more Council member will read it. She might even tell attorneys in other counties to start raising concerns here about what he or she knows about a judge or court administrator.

    For ACJ, honestly, do you not have any judge under 40 who can create a Web forum? You obviously have members who can login here and redirect traffic to a new blog. If the AOCW is now on vacation, or bored, why are you wasting time? And I mean that with most affection, it was a beautiful day!

    • Chuck Horan

      I know you’re joking, Claire, but there really AREN’T many judges under 40. lol What with the requirement of ten years minimum as a practicing attorney, most are well over 40 when appointed. I was a bit younger, a lad of 37 22 years ago when I got lucky. I still don’t know how to set up a blog or web forum.

      More importantly, of course, are the myriad of ethical issues attendant such a project, assuming you are talking about a public forum run by judges where anyone and everyone could post. Think about it any you might agree.

  129. Claire Voyant

    I was joking (I know California judges are not exactly the Twilight audience, but I will look into who might be able to set up something). For now, I am grateful that this bulletin board has not been yanked off the web. I can tell you or anyone else, things will change.

  130. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    We know the people who can set up a whole site with integrated forums, blogs and chat and is willing to host it all as they believe there needs to be another more modern vehicle of communications available to judicial branch employees that’s not controlled by the AOC.

    They are not however willing to run the site, write the articles to keep the site fresh and moderate the forums. They are willing to dedicate one hour a day to administering a site, controlling spam and content.

    So the thing that remains is getting volunteer content writers, someone to manage the membership and forums (and preserve secrecy of membership) and to serve as site editor for articles. The platform can be turned over turnkey to such a group of people interested in contributing, participating or pursuing such an endeavor as a joint public interest project of said developers should there be an interest in such an endeavor.

  131. Claire Voyant

    I would need to think about this and talk to some judges about who might be best to run a site (me or someone else).

    I did like Judge Judy’s idea that it would be called “California Judicial Branch.” The current problems have to do with leadership, but they so clearly go beyond the AOC. We seem to discuss not only the AOC, but the Judicial Council (and its committees and members), the Chief Justice, the California Supreme Court, the appellate courts, the trial courts, court administrators and line staff. Isn’t that “the branch”? Let me ask a judge I know who or what entity would be the best to host a new site.

  132. Bravo to both of you, Obi and Claire!! Way to take the bull by the horns. Sounds like a wonderful idea! Please keep kicking it around!

  133. JusticeCalifornia

    It is valuable and interesting to have a blog with readers and participants all the way up and down the judicial branch.

    Those within (and outside) the third branch don’t often have a chance to communicate frankly with each other. This blog has created an opportunity for that. Yes, it is fair to say—WTF is going on? Why are the trial courts closing doors to the public and laying off employees—while the AOC is hiring and promoting and giving raises? Why is the AOC hiring unlicensed entities, and entering into downright irresponsible contracts with Deloitte, and refusing to lay out the real facts of CCMS? What about Fuentes having a field day wreaking havoc in HR, and is anyone going to do anything about it? What is up with that Ron George/Ming Chin/CIC reacharound, and exactly how much did it cost? And what about the $75,000 Shapiro “loan” to Ron George (was it paid back?), and the undisclosed $75,000 “gift” from Shapiro to the AOC? Is it patent cronyism, blind devotion, blind ambition, or sheer coincidence that George’s handpicked Judicial Council always votes unanimously just the way George wants? What makes top leadership believe they can micromanage the trial courts? What about this Richard Fine thing — does this really happen in the U.S? Did Kim Turner really order the destruction of Marin court records relevant to the court audit, and if so why is she on the Judicial Council (in fact, given her history why is she there at all), and why is the AOC protecting her? What’s with that Ron George order following the governor’s unusual letter, and the immediate budget increase? Should George and Chin be retained, or booted? Who should be floated as replacements? And why the heck don’t those in the court system have the same level of whistleblower protection as everyone else?

    These are all completely legitimate topics of debate and discussion for those interested in, and affected by, judicial branch activity.

    Judges may have interests that are different than those who work with or appear before judges—yet, everyone reading and participating on this (or a new) blog can share a common goal of having a respected system of justice that works as it is supposed to work. Most would agree that it was never anticipated or intended that a single man could or should have the unfettered, concentrated power Ron George has. Most would agree that change, at this point, is mandatory, not discretionary. And open discussion about what is happening right now, and what change might look like, is healthy and democratic.

    Clearly, judges cannot say everything they want to, in the way they want to, but they can participate when they feel it is appropriate and comfortable, and they can read and consider what is being said. I think everyone participating on this blog is doing that.

    I have enjoyed the AOC watcher and recognize its unique value as a friendly forum to pursue common goals, pass along and obtain information, support each other, and protect free and open speech. Whoever AOC watcher is, he/she/they have created a place where participants are comfortable voicing their opinions. Thank you.

    Keep us posted if you intend to pass the baton AOC watcher, and if a new blog is created, I look forward to seeing you all there. If anyone needs my participation in some manner, just ask. In the meanwhile. . . . .

    • Claire Voyant

      “a new blog can share a common goal of having a respected system of justice that works as it is supposed to work”

      great objective and clearly set goal – thank you

  134. JusticeCalifornia

    Last week I was curious to see if any 2010 retention election committees had been set up, or if any 2010 campaign contributions have thus far been collected, by or for our top court politicos, Ron George and Ming Chin.

    I called the FPPC which had no 2010 records for George or Chin, and they referred me to the CA Secretary of State or “the courts”. I called the Secretary of State, and they couldn’t find any 2010 information on George or Chin either. I called the AOC and was referred to Lynn Holton, who said the AOC doesn’t keep these records, and she referred me back to the Secretary of State. I followed up and asked Lynn specific questions about whether contributions had been collected by George or Chin in 2010, and am awaiting the answers (it has been several days—no answer.) In 1998, George filed his first disclosures on July 31, 1998 (although funds were being collected in early 98), and August is pretty late in the game to begin to fund and promote opposition.

    Does anyone have any information as to active campaign committees for either of the justices? And does anyone know if campaign donations are being solicited and/or accepted?

    If donations are not being solicited and/or accepted, that is interesting. If they are, that is even more interesting, because it shouldn’t be this hard to get the information on who, what, where, when, and how.

  135. Until the November retention elections, I suggest a new blog that would be entirely devoted to voting No on George. This should be the first order of business.

    Once this is accomplished, then move on to other business. It will take focus to accomplish this task. Many believe it is possible. The power of the web makes it a viable goal.

  136. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I’ve been bothered by this as well. By this time in the last election, the candidates had raised a significant amount of money and George already had Deukmajin and Feinstein as dual campaign co-chairs. A campaign towards re-election was well underway.

    This time around, nothing. No announcements, no websites, no visible fundraising, no campaign chairs and a whole lot of questions brewing about the administrative arm under his control.

    Is he going to announce his retirement?

    If he does announce his retirement him and maybe Chin can go quietly off into the judicial sunset with a legacy of accomplishment behind them. They’re not bad jurists, they’re just bad managers.

    I predict that if George announces his retirement from the bench, someone else will be appointed that will quietly kill CCMS to preserve George’s legacy and clean house, changing the management and direction of the AOC.

  137. Wendy Darling

    And the CCMS and AOC debacle involving the Sacramento court continues. Here is the latest installment from Cheryl Miller at The Recorder and posted today, Monday, June 14, 2010, on LegalPad, the Recorder blog:

    June 14, 2010
    Sacramento Computer Data Snafu Becomes More… Snafu-y

    [Cheryl Miller]

    In our last report (free reg. req.) on the Sacramento County Superior Court computer saga, we noted that court leaders hadn’t explained why they didn’t shutter computer kiosks until June 4 given that they first learned about the system’s confidentiality breach (free reg. req.) on May 24.

    Today, Presiding Judge Steve White offered an explanation.

    When a probate attorney first noticed that the computer system was allowing public access to certain sensitive documents on May 24, a “fix-it” report was sent to the court’s technicians. Those technicians, however, were occupied with a different problem; computers were only showing three cases on law-and-motion calendars when judges in those departments knew of several dozen matters awaiting action, White said.

    When technicians discovered late on June 3 that the confidentiality breach was more pervasive than originally thought, the decision was made to close the system to the public, White said.

    Court leaders continue to blame the breach on a May 24 update of the Court Case Management System installed by the Administrative Office of the Courts and its vendor, Deloitte Consulting.

    At first, an AOC spokesman said (free reg. req.) a court-installed scanning application was the source of the breach. Later he backed off that statement in a letter to The Recorder. On Monday Philip Carrizosa said it was inaccurate to solely blame the CCMS update, telling the Sacramento Bee that “if our update had been the only cause, then the same problem would have occurred with other courts that use the same version of CCMS as Sacramento.”

    White said other courts didn’t suffer the same problems because Sacramento is the only remotely-hosted computer user that has probate kiosks and public document viewers.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      This makes for most excellent reading as many elements of what’s going on with ccms and deloitte parallel what went on in Marin County.

      And this is merely the latest lawsuit filed against Deloitte. Where else have they had similar problems and lawsuits?

      – Hired by the Irish Health Service to install an ERP system for 10.7 million and to be completed in three years. Ten years and 180 million dollars later the project was abandoned.

      Other nightmare failed software implementations by deloitte resulting in litigation:

      City of San Antonio
      San Bernardino School District
      Minneapolis School District
      Los Angeles Community College District
      Los Angeles Unified School District
      Levi Strauss
      Southern California Edison
      Caterpillar Logistics
      Washington Mutual
      Symbol Technologies
      Bear Stearns

      Based on this stellar record of failed software implementations and utilizing government agencies (such as the AOC) as a training ground, we can likely expect someone to develop some clues about deloittes capabilities somewhere around 2014, ten years after they started CCMS and only seven years after the first failed implementation in the courts.

      By any standard CCMS’s interface is circa 1980 and when an interface is dated in the presentation layer, all the code behind the user interface can also be assumed to be dated. In these observations Computer Geek is quite correct.

      What everyone seems to ignore is the list of failed deloitte software implementations across the globe where the customer was so dissatisfied with the results, they sued to recover funds or they sued to recover losses.

      While judges cannot comment on pending or impending litigation, these facts cannot be ignored and yet they have been facts nonetheless for as long as the AOC has engaged deloitte.

      Why people in the california judicial branch and the media aren’t exploring all of the above debacles and take a fresh look at what is going on with CCMS is beyond me.

      • Judges cannot comment on pending cases. But that does not mean they have to be unaware of pending cases. What is needed are web sites to the all of the above situations.

      • And if you want to look at another one, Obi-Wan, try First written by EDS with behind the scenes work by Deloitte. Now being handled in Colorado by Deloitte. And they’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

        Join me in song. “Some … where …, over the rainbow …”

        California isn’t the only state government with a bunch of suckers.

  138. Those black screens in the KGO video were not CCMS…

  139. Actually I’m pretty sure now those black screens with the blue and green text were CCMS. Take a close look at the clerk. Note her hair color and salmon colored clothing. Compare that to the video in Judge Gilliard’s courtroom taken from the front. It’s the same clerk.

    My general estimation of the situation, without having been able to take a detailed look up close, is that the general technology employed in CCMS is from the mid to late 1980’s. It’s from the era just prior to Windows and particularly prior to the 3.1 era.

    This situation has gotten so ridiculous that I’m going to finally break down and just put some of the technology I developed up on the Web for people to see. Take a look at my Demonstrations page at and you will see a link to an Alpha level (development stage) version of a self-calculating abstract of judgment. You must have Excel 2007 to run it. If your computer is reasonably up to date, you should be able to open the file and move around it, changing the data in the fillable fields. Pass your mouse over cell A2 to start.

    • Judge Gilliard is assigned to a criminal trial department. Sacramento only uses V3, which does not include criminal. The version of V3 I saw does not have a dark screen. The V3 interface is similar to those used in other web based applications. I don’t think the problem with V3 functionality is related to the user interface.

      I am not a fan of CCMS but am fairly certain the clerk in Judge Gilliard’s courtroom was not using a CCMS product.

      • I admit I’m not 100% sure. And I too was surprised by the dark screen but the clerk was obviously Gilliard’s clerk. It might be nice if they would just let me help them instead of going through all these hassles with exposing confidential data, crashes, incorrect calendars, etc. The prototype I developed earlier will do calendars with 100% accuracy for any department and any number of cases. I haven’t heard of a problem yet that I can’t easily and quickly solve with modern software.

        Why is it that some people just have to wait for a catastrophe before accepting help?

      • Oh, and P.S. Have you tried out the self-calculating abstract of judgment? I’m working right now on the second page. It’ll be done fairly soon. Then I’ll do the continuation page and the stayed counts and enhancements offset page. When it’s all done, it will be able to automatically calculate unstayed sentences even for a huge child molest case with dozens of counts and enhancements. Try it out and let me know what you think. Go to and follow the link to the first page demo. I’ll put another link up there when more pages are done.

  140. JusticeCalifornia

    Here is a question for CJ/JC/and AOC GC: at what point does the AOC cross into actionable negligence/misconduct (or worse), that could result in a viable (taxpayer? litigant? county? ) lawsuit, for a) hanging on for dear life and defending CCMS and Deloitte; b) forcing a flawed system down the throats of the trial courts and public; c) failing to keep track of, disclose and/or even covering up key facts about CCMS in providing information to the public, trial courts, and those who have audited and will be auditing CCMS; and d) thereby subjecting the public to harm, including but not limited to release of confidential records, court delays, and billion dollar invoices the public is expected to pay, etc?

    Computer Geek, I know these are not your interests, I am just wondering. . . .

  141. So, JusticeCalifornia. Did you try out the demo?

  142. I love love love the idea of a vote no to retain the CJ!! I wish I had the techno ability. I think the CJ is just trying to stay under the radar so he can be retained…it is pretty rare without an organized opposition for that to not happen.
    JC it appears unless the AOC allows itself to be accountable, no one has jurisdiction or the guts to make them accountable. Also when you checked with the FPPC did the CJ have a statement of economic interest on file? The courts in CA are required to maintain copies on site (which would include the supremes). If that is what you are looking for you may want to remind Ms. Holton of that fact.
    What happened to whistleblower protection for AOC employees? Did that die because it may have applied to the courts as well?

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      That is in suspense right now because Mike Feuer (sitting JC member, head of the assembly judiciary committee) wouldn’t let it get out of his committee unless local court employees also had whistleblower protections. He knew full well what he was doing because it is well established that the courts themselves don’t wish to be restrained by whistleblower protection laws and people blowing the whistle over… rulings and the like.

      So Mike Feuer insisted court employees be added as a backdoor way to kill the bill and sure enough, judges across the state balked at the idea and whistleblower protection appears to be dead for now.

  143. WiseEmployee

    It is my understanding that the whistleblower bill is alive and well. It has passed the Assembly and awaiting a hearing date in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      Things don’t always seem as they appear. It did pass out of committee with court employees on the bill.

      The bill faces stiff resistance, allegedly from judges and justices across the state for the insertion of whistleblower protections for court employees.

      What is the ACJ’s position on whistleblower protections for court employees?

      Now it awaits review by a second judicial council members’ committee, Senator Corbett, whose list of constituents includes Michael Paul.

      Then it still has to pass the governator, who wants his furloughs to be legal.

      Do we see any problems yet?