On behalf of our 500 member judges, we applaud Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer for having the courage to request a thorough and independent audit of the AOC and the Judicial Council. We attach this link to Maria Dinzeo’s article in yesterday’s Courthouse News that details the scope of his request. The audit request specifically asks, among other things, the key question: Are there available funds that can be redirected to trial court operations for the immediate future?
As many of you know, the Alliance has been seeking a legislative audit of the AOC’s financial operations for a long time. We are deeply grateful that Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer responded when we reached out and he has taken up the cause of judicial branch transparency.
If the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approves the request, then the State Auditor will take a close look the AOC and Judicial Council budgets to determine, in the words of the audit request, whether “public funds are being utilized in the most effective manner.”
This audit proposal presents a no-lose situation for the judicial branch. If—as we suspect—the audit uncovers waste and inefficiency, then the misallocated money can be redirected to the trial courts. If the audit finds that everything is in order, then the Chief Justice and branch leaders can make a much stronger case to a skeptical Governor and Legislature for the $1.2 billion increase they now seek for branch funding over the next three years. We repeat the request that we made in a recent letter to the Chief Justice—a letter that has gone unanswered—that she join the Alliance in seeking this audit.
Back in 2011, the Chief Justice said, “I believe in absolute transparency.” Just last year, the AOC’s administrative officer, Curt Soderland, wrote: “As always, we welcome audits of the judicial branch.” This audit request is a chance for our branch leaders to stand by what they said.
Join us in backing Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer’s brave efforts to bring some accountability back to an agency that stubbornly and arrogantly resists it. Please contact the members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and voice your support for a comprehensive audit of the AOC.
If you have not already joined the Alliance of California Judges, we ask that you consider doing so at this critical time. In order to join, you need only hit "reply" to this email and indicate your desire to be part of an organization whose main objective is keeping our courts properly staffed and open to the public.
Directors, Alliance of California Judges