Monday, June 25, 2012
Alliance Blasts Judicial Council’s Initial Response to SEC Report
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The Alliance of California Judges Friday blasted the Judicial Council for its lack of immediate action on the report of the Strategic Evaluation Committee.
The council met Thursday and Friday in San Francisco, and voted to establish a process for considering the SEC report, which was highly critical of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has said that she is committed to giving serious consideration to the report, but that it is in many ways reflective of past practices that no longer exist or are already in the process of being changed.
The alliance, in its release Friday, expressed disappointment in the council’s process, questioning—among other things, the need for a “rolling public comment period.”
The alliance directors commented:
“By our count, this will be the fourth public comment period—CJA’s, the Chief’s, and the SEC’s (which involved sending questionnaires to every current and former judge in the state, among others). The Council has without a doubt now put the matter of the implementation of the report’s recommendations on a piecemeal schedule which could literally take years to run its course.”
Praise for Wesley
The alliance praised Los Angeles Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley for having “gamely tried to salvage something from the meeting” by moving the council adopt SEC recommendation 4.1, which reads:
“The Judicial Council must take an active role in overseeing and monitoring the AOC and demanding transparency, accountability, and efficiency in the AOC’s operations and practices.”
The motion “caused obvious discomfort among the Council members,” the alliance said, leading to a lengthy period of “useless chatter” about parliamentary procedure before a vote in which the motion received only one vote.
“Perhaps the SEC committee members, most of whom had shown up to see their report received by the council, were surprised by today’s outcome,” the alliance said. “We were not, having witnessed more than our share of these meetings over the past few years.”
In its own release Friday, the AOC explained that the report’s recommendations on Judicial Council oversight of the AOC will be discussed at a council meeting scheduled for the last two days of August.
In other action Friday, the council unanimously voted to allocate up to up to $3.36 million from the Trial Court Trust Fund to assist the San Luis Obispo Superior Court in acquiring a case management system.
“The council recognized that the San Luis Obispo court needs to replace its two failing 30+ years-old case management systems which have no vendor support, suffer from intermittent failures, and could fail permanently at any time,” the AOC said in its release.
The AOC explained that he San Luis Obispo court had volunteered to be one of the “early adopter” courts for the California Court Case Management System “and spent a significant amount of time and resources preparing to implement the system” before the council pulled the plug on CCMS in March.
Funds previously set aside to reimburse the Ventura Superior Court for costs it would have incurred in the deployment of CCMS will now go to the San Luis Obispo court, which will be responsible for maintenance and operations costs.
“This court has gone out on a limb three different times in terms of case management systems only to have that limb sawed off, not through any fault of their own,” Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge James E. Herman, chair of the CCMS Internal Committee—which has been renamed the Technology Committee—explained.
Court of Appeal Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst of this district was quoted as pointing that the San Luis Obispo system will serve as a “template” for other courts looking to replace their case management system.
Also, the newly renamed Technology Committee said it has created a new working group to “work on developing a roadmap for case management systems, e-filing, and other court technology.” The committee said that six courts need new systems now and 22 more will need them within five years.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company