The Governor couldn’t be clearer. He doesn’t trust the way our branch handles its money. “We’ve given courts more,” he told the media earlier this month. “We want them to be able to manage more effectively, quite frankly.”
His proposed budget drives the point home. He’s giving our branch an additional $105 million for the upcoming fiscal year—far short of the $612 million that the Chief Justice was looking for, let alone the $266 million she claims we need just to maintain our current levels of service.
The Legislature doesn’t trust our management either. The legislatively mandated termination of CCMS, the requirement that Judicial Council committees develop open-meeting rules, the criticisms leveled by the State Auditor against the AOC only last month for “pervasive deficiencies” in procurement reporting— all these actions by the legislative branch, and more, reflect this ongoing mistrust.
We need to do something bold to restore our credibility with the other branches of government, and we need to do it soon.
We’ve asked the Chief Justice to join us in calling for the Legislature to authorize a complete audit of all the funds administered by the AOC. A copy of our letter to the Chief Justice is available at this link.
This is not our first call for cooperation between the ACJ and the Council. Over the years, the ACJ has tried time and time again to work together with the Council and the AOC on behalf of our beleaguered branch. Time and time again, we’ve been shot down.
In a letter to State Auditor Elaine Howle dated September 13, 2013, the AOC’s chief administrative officer, Curt Soderland, wrote: “As always, we welcome audits of the judicial branch.” We hope his words weren’t empty ones. We ask the Chief Justice and Judge Jahr to stand by their pledge of greater transparency and accountability. We ask them to join us in calling for a comprehensive and meaningful audit of the AOC.
Directors, Alliance of California Judges