Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Page 1


MacLaughlin, Chirlin to Serve on Committee Reviewing AOC




Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye yesterday named a 14-member committee  to conduct a promised in-depth review of the Administrative Office of the Courts, including a former Los Angeles Superior Court presiding judge and a retired judge of that court.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin, who served as presiding judge in 2003 and 2004, and retired Judge Judith Chirlin will serve on the Strategic Evaluation Committee chaired by retired Third District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland.

The chief justice recently announced that she intended to form a committee to study the AOC, which has been beset by controversies over cost overruns on its central computer system and demands for more autonomy by some local trial courts. In addition, several top administrators, including state courts director William Vickrey, have slated retirements in the coming months. (See related story, Page xxx.)

The chief justice explained the committee’s mission in a statement:

“AOC staff members have performed admirably in a difficult and rapidly changing environment in recent years. However, severe budget constraints and shifting priorities make it necessary to review all aspects of the AOC to help reset goals and focus on core services to the courts.”

MacLaughlin told the MetNews that he had just learned who the other committee members will be and does not yet know when the committee will meet or what its specific agenda will be.

Supports AB 1208

MacLaughlin is one of seven former presiding judges who have endorsed AB 1208, which would guarantee local trial courts substantial control over their administration and finances. Many current or former Judicial Council members from other counties have voiced opposition to the bill, which awaits a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The committee’s mission, MacLaughlin said yesterday, is not directly related to that legislation or to the controversy over the $1.9 billion California Case Management System, although discussion of those issues may come up to the extent they reflect on the structure of the AOC.

Besides Scotland, Chirlin, and MacLaughlin, the committee includes Marin Superior Court Judge Verna A. Adams, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Angela M. Bradstreet,  San Bernardino Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Ronald M. Christianson, Riverside Superior Court Presiding Judge Sherrill A. Ellsworth, Solano Superior Court Judge Ramona Joyce Garrett, El Dorado Superior Court  Presiding Judge  Suzanne N. Kingsbury, Merced Superior Court Presiding Judge Brian L. McCabe, retired Sierra Superior Court Judge William Pangman, retired Stanislaus Superior Court Judge  Donald Shaver, Sacramento Superior Court Judge  Richard K. Sueyoshi, and Placer Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Charles D. Wachob. 

Small Counties

The AOC noted in the release that the members represented “large courts such as Los Angeles, medium-sized courts such as Merced and small courts, such as El Dorado.” Half the members, however, come from counties outside the major population centers of the state.

In addition to the 14 voting members, the chief justice named four advisory members with experience in court or government administration. They are David Caffrey, who served as deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Pete Wilson after having been cabinet secretary to Wilson’s predecessor, George Deukmejian; Diane Cummins, a special advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and longtime budget expert in the state Department of Finance;  National Center for State Courts President Mary C. McQueen; and James Tilton, former head of the California Department of Corrections.


Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company