Please click here to view a document signed by the Chief Justice on July 3, 2013. This memorandum grants 3.5% pay raises to employees of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeal, and the Habeas Corpus Resource Center.
You might recall that the Legislature was poised near the end of budget negotiations to appropriate $66 million dollars to the trial courts. This was intended to help ameliorate the devastating cuts that have resulted in closed courthouses and courtrooms, thousands of laid off local court employees and reduced hours of service for the public. After heavy lobbying by Branch leadership, $6 million of those dollars were siphoned off. We now know why those funds were taken and what they were used for: pay raises.
It is unconscionable and politically tone deaf for our Branch leaders to have expended what little credibility we have left in Sacramento for pay raises -- money that will not reopen a single shuttered courtroom. What message does this send to our sister branches of government? Is money no object for those at the top? The Chief Justice is promoting a civics curriculum for our public schools. Perhaps our branch leaders would benefit from a course in how a bill becomes a law. They could become reacquainted with the concept that the Legislative Branch has the "power of the purse."
We ask again: If the AOC were to be eliminated tomorrow, would any member of the public be inconvenienced? Would any litigant not have their day in court? Would a person seeking a domestic violence restraining order not receive one? Would a single mother or father be unable to get a child support order?
The Alliance of California Judges will not allow this 4th of July gift to go unnoticed. It has become all too clear that keeping our local courts open is not the first priority of the Judicial Council or Branch leadership. We call upon the Legislature to direct that a top to bottom audit of the AOC be conducted.
One final note, do not be surprised if our branch leadership claims once again that an increase in pay is not a pay raise. If these were step increases there would be no need for the Chief Justice to authorize them. These are discretionary pay raises.
Directors, Alliance of California Judges