Category Archives: Judicial Wars

Naming Justice George’s Successor

By now everyone has heard the news that King Chief Justice Ronald George will be retiring January. Now the guessing game of whom the Governator will appoint has begun. So far the one name that keeps coming up is that of Justice Carol Corrigan who was appointed to the state supreme court by the Governator himself.

Here’s a rundown of the process for appointing George’s sucessor courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Naming a successor

The process of appointing Chief Justice Ronald George’s successor:

Candidate chosen: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must choose a candidate by Sept. 15, after a confidential review by the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.

Confirmation: The candidate will seek confirmation from the Commission on Judicial Appointments, consisting of George, Attorney General Jerry Brown and appeals court Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of Los Angeles, the state’s senior presiding appellate jurist.

Election: If confirmed, the candidate will go on the Nov. 2 ballot for a 12-year term beginning in January, when George’s term expires.

Justice promoted: If Schwarzenegger chooses a current justice to be chief justice, he would nominate that justice’s successor, who would go through the same confirmation process.

Judicial Wars: Sacramento Superior Goes Unplugged

Seems Sacramento Superior Court is not messing around when it comes to the issue of the continued use of the AOC’s troubled CCMS software program. In this morning’s Daily Journal report Cheryl Miller details the argument that’s broken out between the AOC and Sacramento Superior.

The argument all comes down to this. Whether individual courts have the right to determine what’s right for their own courts.

From the Daily Journal article:

At a public event last month , Sacramento court leaders announced that they would disconnect their hardware from CCMS’ Arizona-based vendor server so they could coordinate fixes to the system locally. Courts in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties already house their own servers.

After the announcement, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts said that while the branch preferred that all courts use the central server, Sacramento could choose to leave. But in a May 11 letter (.pdf) to White, executive and planning committee Chairman Richard Huffman, a justice on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, ordered the court not to spend any money on new computer equipment or staff for the system move. He also directed the AOC to work with the court on its concerns and report back to the Judicial Council.

“The council should have the opportunity to consider and respond to the court’s concerns before the Court takes action to effect any transfer,” Huffman wrote.

Huffman cited Rule of Court 10.11(a) in issuing the committee’s “direction.”

White said he and other Sacramento judges “do not agree that there is any rule of court that stands for that proposition.” State law is clear that local judges run local courts, he said.

“We don’t have an objection to CCMS,” White said. “What we want … is to simply be treated the same way as San Diego and Orange County and Los Angeles already have been, which is to host their own database,” he said. “I do not intend to have us singled out by the AOC.”

Judicial Wars: Judicial Council to LA Superior Court…You Ain’t Gettin’ A Dime

It seems the Judicial Council is DETERMINED to protect all of the monies for it’s pet court construction fund even if it means telling the largest court system in the country to go ahead an lay off even more court employees. An article in yesterday’s Daily Journal detailed what happened when the JC took up the proposal by LA Superior to release funds from the court construction in order to help LA Superior prevent more layoffs. And as can be expected, a majority of the council members voted to deny LA’s request basically sealing the fate of hundreds of LA Superior employees unless the Legislature steps in.

In heated discussions prior to the 15-to-2 vote, three Los Angeles judges who sit on the council took issue with a report by the Administrative Office of the Courts finding the Los Angeles court had overestimated the number of employees it needed to lay off to deal with its budget shortfall.

Council member Lee Smalley Edmon said her court’s projections, which include the need to let 500 employees go in the next fiscal year, were correct and “based on our actual experience.” She objected to “unnecessary second guessing.” “I don’t think it’s helpful to the cause of the judicial branch,” Edmon said. “The AOC isn’t in the trenches every day.”

And the AOC’s response to LA’s budget projections? Thou doth protest too much basically.

Stephen Nash, finance director for the AOC, told council members he believes the Los Angeles court underestimated the savings it could achieve through attrition and the layoffs it has already implemented.

According to Nash’s calculations, the court should have enough reserves at the end of fiscal 2012-13, and should not have to resort to a second wave of planned layoffs of 500 employees. Nash said that using the construction funding for operations could “imperil the timing and success” of many of the courthouse projects and that court officials are working hard to find other solutions. “We believe the creativity needs to continue,” he said.

Instead of dipping into the court construction fund, the AOC will now work to ask the Legislature to cough up more funds to cover the deficits faced by the courts.

I’m sorry, but when it comes to who do I believe in terms of budget numbers, and if I’m going to have to choose between people who work in the court and know what they’re dealing with and a group of administrators, some of whom have NO idea of the day-to-day operations of running a court, I’m going to choose the former.

Judicial Wars: Justice George Creates AOC Oversight Committee…The Good and the Bad News

I’m a bit behind the curve on this bit of news thanks to life, or the facsimile of one that I live, making me busier than bees in a hive.  But I did want to post a couple thoughts on the news that broke late last week about Justice George announcing that he would appoint an oversight committee to oversee the AOC.  The article in the Recorder said it was a “nod to critics.”  And although the beginning of the article started out fine and dandy in announcing the creation of the committee, it was only until you kept reading that you realized that this “nod” wasn’t much more than a flip of the middle finger as far as I’m concerned.

Why do I feel that way? Because according to the Recorder article the committee will be comprised of a:

…10-member advisory panel [that] would include the vice chairs of three Judicial Council operating committees; the chair and vice chair of the council’s Presiding Judges Committee; one administrative presiding judge from the courts of appeal; one trial court executive officer; one appellate court administrative officer; one member of the State Bar; and a representative of the CJA.

And who gets to select all the members of this newly formed committee? That’s right. King Justice George himself.  This just shows that George and his cronies on the Judicial Council and their lackeys in the AOC have absolutely no qualms in stating that they DO NOT want any form of democracy to creep into how they conduct their business.  George doesn’t want some judge who, God forbid, has an independent mind and thinks for him or herself.  So he’s going to stack this committee with yes people that will do whatever he and the JC bid them to do.  For King Justice George to argue otherwise is simply comical.

But really folks.  Nothing that King Justice George and his royal court do nowadays surprises me anymore.  And if I’m not surprised, dear reader, you shouldn’t be either.

Los Angeles Lays Off Hundreds of Court Employees

For almost a year now Judge McCoy of Los Angeles Superior Court has been stating that if things didn’t improve financially for his court he would have no choice but to lay off hundreds of court staff and close courts.  He’s also been one of the more vocal proponents of having court construction funds redirected back to county courts to help them with their budget deficits and to prevent mass layoffs.

Now we find out today from the Daily Journal that Judge McCoy has done what he has said he’d have no choice but to do if things didn’t improve.

The Los Angeles Superior Court plans to issue pink slips to 329 employees today, amid a dispute with the state agency that oversees the courts, which maintains the layoffs are “unnecessary.”

The bulk of the layoffs will affect clerical assistants and court services assistants, according to a court spokesman. Among the possible cuts is the call center at Metropolitan Courthouse, which processes traffic tickets and handles up to 2,000 calls a day. Notified employees will be placed on administrative leave and paid until the end of March, but will not be reporting to their posts after today.

Court officials are also expected to announce the closure of more than 12 courtrooms throughout the county. They declined to provide further detail of which ones are facing closure until the announcement is made.

The cuts loom as the top official at the Administrative Office of the Courts, which has authority over the state’s trial courts, publicly questioned whether Presiding Judge Charles “Tim” McCoy’s decision to lay off employees was necessary.

The AOC and Justice George have, according to the article, taken Judge McCoy’s threats of layoffs and closing courts as a “Chicken Little approach.”  Well, if they thought this was Judge McCoy playing a game of chicken, he’s definitely called their bluff.

You can read more coverage on the layoffs by clicking the links below.

L.A. Superior court cuts 329 employees – SF Examiner

First wave of layoffs claims 50 employees from courthouses – dailybreeze.com

Local courts lay off more than 300 workers – Press Telegram

Los Angeles Superior Court announces layoffs and courtroom closures – 89.3 KPCC

L.A. Trial Courts Undergoing Mass Layoff – Courthouse News Service

Judicial Wars: State Judges Spar Over Court Spending

Screen capture of news report on the battle between the Alliance of California Judges and the AOC and Judicial Council

Closing courts once a month might save money, but an alliance of more than 200 rebellious California judges said it is really costing citizens justice.

Click here to view video.

Judicial Wars: Justice George’s Demeanor Towards Critics Nothing New

It’s been interesting for me as I read the comments posted here on the blog and the emails that have been sent to me by people expressing their outrage, dismay, disappointment, and or shock at King Justice George’s speech before the legislature last week in which he attempted to label the over 200 judges in the Alliance of California Judges as a reactionary group of “strident and uninformed voices.” A quote from his speech to the Legislature last Tuesday.

The judiciary is not represented by the few strident and uninformed voices that occasionally emerge as e-mail strings on the fringe of the judiciary. Their efforts reflect nothing less than a thinly disguised agenda to dismantle the statewide administration of justice that all three branches of government have developed over the past several years.

And although recent articles that have focused on the lobbying efforts by King Justice George and his AOC and JC minions to scuttle an audit of the CCMS program may indicate that this is new territory for the King Justice, I need only refer you back to 2006 when King Justice George gave a speech before the California Judges Association when he told the assembled judges that he would not brook any attempt by judges to undermine his appointment power.

Continue reading

Bay Area KGO7 Airs Piece on Judicial “Rebellion”

Those of you who read this blog and live in the Bay Area probably got the chance this evening to view a terrific piece on the Alliance of California Judges and its battle to bring transparency and accountability to the Judicial Council and the AOC. The piece that aired on KGO 7 and presented by KGO reporter Vic Lee was spot on in every way. And although it could have been longer and more in-depth, I thought it did a great job highlighting who the major players are and what the main arguments are.

VIDEO UPDATE: I’m having problems embedding the video here so to view the video of the news piece click here or on the link below.

I’m including a link if you’d like to read the entire transcript of the piece. As soon as KGO uploads the piece in video format I’ll embed it here as well.

Rebellion in the California court system

They call themselves “the alliance.” Others call them rebels. They are a group of California judges who say the state’s judicial branch is no longer serving the people and they are demanding reform.

Last month, Judge David Lampe from Kern County made a public appeal to the California Judicial Council to stop closing courthouses one day a month. It is a decision the council says it made because of the state’s budget crisis.

Lampe says his plea fell on deaf ears.

“I believe that a lot of judges felt they did not have a sufficient voice in the decision that closed our courts,” he said.

That decision was made by the 27 judges who sit on the judicial council. They make statewide policy and administer the multi-billion dollar budget for California’s courts. Members of the judicial council are appointed by the chief justice of the state supreme court, who also presides over its meetings. The council’s staff is called the AOC, short for Administrative Office of the Courts.

The court closures and employee furloughs have triggered an open revolt against the council by some of California’s 1,700 judges.

“A very insular, elite group of folks has run this branch for now 15 years or so,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles Horan.

Judicial Wars: Chief Justice George Attacks Critics…Again

In a sign of just how far and just how dirty King Chief Justice George is willing to go in order to protect his beloved AOC and Judicial Council, he issued a thinly veiled attack on the Alliance of California Judges in a speech to the Legislature this past Tuesday.

In his “State of the Judiciary” speech to the legislature in which he gave a report of the state of California courts, King Justice George stated that the Legislature should only pay heed to the advice and counsel of the Judicial Council and the California Judges Association.

As you seek and receive input from California’s judiciary—the largest in the United States and, in the view of many across the nation, the finest—I urge you not to lose sight of the fact that it is the constitutional body, the Judicial Council of California, and its historic partner, the California Judges Association, the dues-supported voluntary organization representing more than 2,000 elected and retired judges and justices, that speak for California’s co-equal judicial branch of government even though these two entities may not always be in total agreement.

King Justice George then went on to say that any other group besides the two judiciary groups he mentioned were comprised of “strident and uninformed voices.” Here’s a quote from his speech.

The judiciary is not represented by the few strident and uninformed voices that occasionally emerge as e-mail strings on the fringe of the judiciary. Their efforts reflect nothing less than a thinly disguised agenda to dismantle the statewide administration of justice that all three branches of government have developed over the past several years. The vast majority of judges do not wish to engage in finger-pointing among individual courts and factions, and instead are prepared to remain fully accountable to you—the Legislature—and to the executive branch for the resources you allocate to the Judicial Council for the statewide administration of justice for the benefit of all Californians.

It’s absolutely disgraceful for King Justice George to claim that persons or groups that have a different opinion than the AOC’s and the Judicial Council’s are comprised of “strident and uninformed voices.” This is just part and parcel of what we’ve come to expect from the AOC and the Judicial Council.  Squelch all opposition and if they don’t shut up or tow the party line then tar them as a group of “strident and uninformed voices.”

Shame on you King or is it Emperor Justice George!  First, you don’t even have the cojones to name the group that you attacked before the legislators trying to make them out to be some group of crazies out to get big government.  Nothing could be more further than the truth and you know it.  The citizens of California, including judges, have EVERY right to ask questions of their elected officials and government bodies without fear of retribution or character assassination.  And the fact that you pulled this stunt before the Legislature only goes to prove how much the light of transparency needs to shine on the halls and cubicles of the AOC and the Judicial Council.

And then to add insult to injury you had the audacity to shake a boogie man before legislators by claiming that all critics of the AOC and the JC want to “dismantle the statewide administration of justice.”  I would hardly call what you and your cronies on the Judicial Council and your lapdogs in the AOC have done these past years “administration of justice.”  You know full well that this opposition is not to “dismantle the statewide administration of justice” as you claimed before the Legislature but to call for accountability and transparency.   Don’t the citizens of California have the right to know how their tax monies are being spent?  Don’t they have the right to demand better management from government agencies that run on their hard earned dollars?

I’ve said it many times before that people want to improve how things are done at the AOC and JC.  But obviously King Justice George you and yours would rather hole yourselves up behind the cold walls of your Death Star headquarters rather than listen to what you may believe to be lies, but what many acknowledge is truth.

Judicial Wars: Judge and Union Leader Unite In Opposition to Redirecting Court Construction Funds

They say politics make for strange bedfellows.  Still, it was quite interesting to read an opinion piece printed in the Capitol Weekly in which the authors of the piece voiced their opposition to any plan to redirect court construction funds away from building new courts and back into the budgets of courts facing severe budget deficits.  What really made the piece interesting was that the authors were Judge Mary Ann O’Malley, presiding judge of Contra Costa County, and Bob Balgenorth who is listed as “president of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, which represents about 800,000 construction workers.”

If anyone thought naively that the fight over court construction funds was going to be a simple affair, they need only look at this article as a taste of what’s to come. The fight ahead is going to be incredibly emotional for both sides it has the possibility of turning into an ugly mud fight turning allies into enemies.