Category Archives: AOC Lawsuits

AOC Adds Another Unlicensed Contractor to AOC Lawsuit

A tip of the hat to AOCW reader Wendy Darling who posted a link to this piece on the Cal Law blog.

Judicial Council Suing Another Unlicensed Contractor

It turns out the Judicial Council isn’t just suing one contractor for performing courthouse work without a license. Jacobs Facilities Inc. has unwillingly joined Aleut Global Solutions as a defendant in the Council’s multimillion-dollar litigation.

In a complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the Council claims that Jacobs Facilities let its contractor’s license lapse for an unspecified period of time after it was hired in 2006 to perform maintenance work at Southern California court buildings. State records show that Jacobs Facilities’ license expired in November 2008. AOC officials say that Jacobs Facilities’ parent company restructured and recently shifted the courthouse contract to a new, properly licensed entity, Jacobs Project Management Co.

The lawsuit doesn’t seek specific damages, though any payout could be significant. The Judicial Council has paid Jacobs Facilities $18.3 million for work into this year, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The AOC is mum, and the whistleblower cries foul, after the jump.

A spokeswoman for Pasadena-based Jacobs did not return a phone message Friday.

Click here to continue reading.

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Did AOC Employees Knowingly Steer Work to Unlicensed Contractor?

I’ve been receiving information for some time now about problems with AOC employees assigning contracts to contractors who not only didn’t have proper licenses but who also charged more than other contractors did. And after one AOC employee had had quite enough with all of the shenanigans going on at the AOC he blew the whistle calling out the fact that two companies contracted to do maintenance work of courthouses for the AOC didn’t have proper licenses. Bill Vickrey was even forced to admit in an email that he sent out that there were problems but that the AOC was handling the matter.

Now the Daily Recorder is reporting in their Legal Pad blog that the AOC is suing Aleut Global Solutions LLC which is one of the companies in question.

The Judicial Council has sued Aleut Global Solutions LLC, the Colorado Springs company that maintains Northern California courthouses, for performing work without a contractor’s license.

The suit (.pdf), filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, says AGS breached its three-year-old contract with the judicial branch. The complaint seeks disgorgement of “all compensation paid to them by the Judicial Council,” a sum totaling more than $14.5 million over the life of the contract, an Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman said Thursday.

But this story seems to be getting murkier by the second because I’ve been told by my followers of Themis that the AOC held an emergency telephone meeting on the 9th with all managers in the Facilities Management Unit (FMU).  The meeting dealt with how to handle the problem of the maintenance company called Jacobs Project Management Co or commonly referred to within the AOC as “Team Jacobs.”  (No, it’s not Twilight related so Team Edward members calm down.)  Apparently the FMU department had known for two years that Team Jacobs did not have a proper license to carry out all the work it had been contracted to do.  Not only that, even with that knowledge, the FMU department continued to give work to Team Jacobs which is a problem for the AOC because according to the email I received, “Facilities Management Unit Employees are all legally responsible to check licensure before issuing any contract, purchase or service work order over $500.00 in value (Business & Professions Code 7028.15) or face fines of up to $15,000.00 for each service work order issued.”

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Newspaper sues AOC to reveal spending on court chambers remodeling…and wins!!

david_goliath__I don’t know why this court decision hasn’t been sung from the rooftops but if I can help to spread the news, you’re darn tootin’ I’m going to do my share.

It turns out that earlier this year a small town newspaper called The Sacramento Valley Mirror took on the challenge of attempting to find out how much the AOC spent to remodel a court chamber located in the Orland Branch of the Glenn County Superior Court. The AOC responded in the usual way when they receive requests for budgets and financial information. They drew up the drawbridge over the moat and yelled no! And when the paper filed a writ of mandate, the court responded by releasing quarterly financial reports but nothing specifically related to the spending for remodeling the courtroom. And that’s when things got really interesting according to the paper’s own account.

After Paul Nicholas Boylan, of Davis, filed the suit on behalf of the paper, 10 remodel documents were released. And most of them led to other documents and revealed an unaccounted, secreted spending.

Of particular concern was the matter of estimates. None were apparently solicited.

Also, the fees and contract for an interior decorator, a former court official from Nevada County, are hidden as well as cost of furniture, lighting and other items.
References to these things were also documented in county records secured from the Glenn County Department of Buildings and Grounds and the Glenn County Department of Finance.

The attorney for Ms. Burkhart argued that the court wasn’t compelled to release information on how it spent the public’s money.

But Justice Dawson disagreed, saying that while the California Public Records Act did not directly apply, and the rule of court was not precise, “The spirit of the California Public Records Act” was what counted.

The Administrative Office of the Courts and the chief justice have long said that the public has the right to know exactly how its money is spent. Yet, for the most part court operations are hidden from public view. This, despite the direction from court hierarchy in San Francisco.

Justice Dawson mentioned above is Justice Betty Dawson of the Fifth District Court of Appeal who ruled in favor of The Sacramento Valley Mirror and is front contender for my Golden Gavel Award.

And how does attorney Paul Boylan feel about the court’s ruling?

“I never doubted this outcome. It is simply absurd to believe that any governmental agency, even a court, can hide how they spend public money, and yet that is exactly what the court’s attorney was arguing. Every dollar spent defending the decision to withhold the requested information was a dollar utterly wasted that should have been spent on something else.

…..”The bottom line is that most public agencies say no because they can, not because they have a reason for saying no.”

Hmm…between Justice Dawson and The Sacramento Valley Mirror, it’s going to be a tough choice trying to decide who should get the Golden Gavel Award this year.  You can read more about this David vs Goliath battle here.