Friday, August 31, 2012
Implement SEC Reforms Now, Alliance Director Tells AOC
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The reforms proposed by the Strategic Evaluation Committee should be immediately implemented, a director of the Alliance of California Judges told the Judicial Council of California yesterday.
Yesterday was the first day of a two-day meeting in San Francisco. The council is scheduled to consider the critical report at today’s session, but it got an earful during a brief presentation yesterday by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White.
According to prepared remarks circulated by the alliance, White told the council:
“In the time since we last met, comment on the Strategic Evaluation Committee’s report and recommendations was invited. Almost a fourth of California’s judges weighed in. By July 24 some 471 comments were filed with the council. Of these, 407 favored total or near total implementation of the SEC recommendations; 271 called for immediate implementation.
“Many expressed concern that the Council was going to foot-drag, study, and restudy the recommendations to death, or otherwise defer to the AOC for guidance on where to go from here. Some of you seemed offended that anyone would predict inaction or rolling ruminations in place of leadership.
“Let me take my few minutes to say why hundreds of judges are still skeptical that the Council will ever see the need and find the will to unhorse the AOC. For years on end the council as a body has exhibited no interest whatever in controlling the AOC.... But the fundamental blame here does not fall on the AOC. It falls squarely on the council.”
White lambasted the council for allowing an AOC lobbying to insert language into a recent budget trailer bill that was, according to White, intended “to eliminate local control of the trial courts and move that authority to the council — which means, essentially, the AOC.”
The “toxic language” was kept out, the judge said, only because of “two judges getting word of this from Capitol sources.”
The act may have been perpetrated by “rogue employees,” the judge noted. But if the council were “actually committed to judicial independence,” he said, it “would have gotten to the bottom of this and, among other actions, terminated the at-will employees who were responsible” instead of doing “nothing.”
The only logical step, he said, if for the council to go ahead and fully implement the many recommendation of the SEC, which the chief justice appointed.
“We were promised the report would be ‘your bible,’” he said. “Do not send that bible out for further study.”
Today’s meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast on the judicial branch website, courts.ca.gov.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company