Alliance of California Judges
March 3, 2014

TROUBLING ANSWERS FROM THE AOC

Trying to get information out of the AOC can seem like playing Go Fish with a temperamental child.  You have to ask for exactly the right thing in exactly the right way, and even then you might not get it.  Often, the AOC claims that it doesn’t keep the kinds of records you’re looking for.  Sometimes it redirects your request to Justice Hull, who demands that you put your request in writing and send it the old-fashioned way through the U.S. mail.  It’s a daunting process.

Fortunately, Alliance Director Kevin McCormick isn’t easily daunted.  Last December, he got some troubling answers from the AOC’s Donna Hershkowitz to some probing questions about how the AOC manages itself.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Since the Judicial Council “took ownership” of the SEC report on June 21, 2012, the AOC has laid off only 10 of its full-time employees, while giving full-time positions to 52 former temps and contractors.
  • The AOC claims that the workforce of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) was reduced by 35 percent.  (See http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/jc-20131025-item3.pdf.)  But according to Ms. Hershkovitz, not a single CFCC full-time employee was laid off since June 2012.
  • The SEC report noted that “the Education Division’s current staffing is one of the highest in the AOC and should be reduced.”  (Recommendation 7-20.)  But not a single person was laid off from the Education Division since June 2012.
  • The AOC website indicates that “the number of AOC employees in formal research classifications has declined by approximately 45%” since 2013.  (See http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/JC-Directives-72-1-20130426.pdf)  But since the time of the SEC report, nobody in a research classification has actually been laid off.
  • Between July 1, 2013 and November 30, 2013, 171 AOC employees received a step increase.
  • Only six full-time CCMS employees have actually been laid off, even though the Legislature pulled the plug on the entire program.
  • The AOC doesn’t keep any records as to how many of its employees have undergone an annual performance review—even though the AOC’s own Policies and Procedures Manual requires one.

The complete text of the AOC response, which includes Judge McCormick’s questions, is attached.  We thank Ms. Hershkowitz for responding quickly.

Apparently, the AOC hasn’t been sharing the budgetary pain with those of us in the trial courts.  The AOC cashiered some people, let go a bunch of temps and contract workers—even hiring some of them back—and gave out a bunch of raises.

One judge managed to pry this information out of the AOC in his spare time.  It raises more questions than it answers.  Just imagine what a team of legislative auditors could come up with.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges

 

----- Forwarded Message -----

From: Hershkowitz, Donna [mailto:Donna.Hershkowitz@jud.ca.gov]  Sent: Friday, December 20, 2013 8:49 PM To: McCormick, Kevin Cc: Jahr, Steven; Hull, Harry; Pubinfo Subject: RE: Request for information

Judge McCormick – Below please find our responses to your December 11, 2013 requests for judicial administrative records.  To ensure that we are addressing each of your requests, I have interlineated responses below each of the questions you posed in the December 11 email.
 


From: McCormick, Kevin [mailto:McCormK@saccourt.ca.gov]  Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3:41 PM To: Hershkowitz, Donna Cc: Jahr, Steven Subject: FW: Request for information

Ms. Hershkowitz,

I am seeking some additional information regarding areas involved in the SEC report.  I appreciate your help in securing this information.

AOC Employees

Does the AOC maintain any records of whether an AOC employee or manager is at work on a given day?
Response: Yes. The AOC uses the State of California Absence and Additional Time Worked Report (Timesheet) STD 634 form, which is collected after the conclusion of each pay period.  A copy of the STD 634 is attached for your reference.

Does the AOC maintain any records of where an AOC employee or manager is working on a given day?
Response: The AOC does not maintain any records responsive to this request.

Please provide a list of any AOC employee of manager that is permitted to work under the AOC telecommuting policy and for each person the number of days they have worked offsite in the past 12 months.
Response: Attached is a current listing of each AOC employee permitted to work under the pilot telecommuting program that was adopted in June 2013 and the ad hoc telecommute policy that was adopted in March 2013 (please note these are included in 2 separate tabs in the excel file attached).

Are there any portions, segments, or areas of the AOC bureaucracy that are exempt from reporting their roster as a part of the AOC organization?
Response: All regular employees, limited term employees, employment agency temporary workers, and contractors are reported on the monthly “AOC HR Metrics by Office report, which can be accessed at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/hr-aoc-staffing-metrics.pdf

Please provide a current list of employees, part time employees, 909’s, temporary employees, contract employees, independent contractors, or other persons who derives an income by working by, for, or through, the AOC.  
Response: The list of AOC employees, including part time, contractors, 909’s, and agency temporary employees is attached.   By requesting a current list of “other persons who derive an income by working by, for, or through, the AOC,” we assume you are requesting lists of employees working for a vendor with whom the agency has contracted. We do not maintain such records.

Have any employees who were classified as temporary or part time employees at the time the Strategic Evaluation Committee (SEC) report was accepted by the Judicial Council (June 21, 2012) been converted to, or hired as, full time employees at the AOC?  If yes, how many?

Response: Yes, 9 individuals classified as temporary 909 employees and 43 classified as agency temporary employees at the time the SEC report was accepted have been converted to regular employees.

SEC “Completed Items”

The AOC web site lists a number of items related to the SEC report as “Completed”, so please provide the requested documents related to these items.

1.    A copy of the AOC classification and compensation policy manual. Response: We assume this question is in reference to Directive 15, which states that “The AOC must review all compensation-related policies and procedures, including those contained in the AOC Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.” The AOC does not have a “classification and compensation policy manual.” All policies, including those tied to classification and compensation, are included in the AOC Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.  Information regarding Directive 15 may be found at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/19567.htm. As indicated in the discussion of directive 15 at that link, the AOC classification and compensation study is ongoing. The Administrative Director of the Courts will report to the Judicial Council following the completion of the classification and compensation study.

2.    A copy of the list of classifications the AOC is now using for their employees. A copy of the current list of classifications can be found at:http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/aoc_classcomp.pdf.  We assume this question relates to Directive 16.  That directive is currently in progress pending the results of the classification and compensation study.  Information regarding Directive 16 can be found at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/19567.htm

3.    Have any full time AOC employees (not temporary employees, agency temps, contract employees or those who retired or were given paid separation agreements) been laid off since the SEC report was accepted by the Judicial Council? Response: Yes
a.    If yes, how many full time employees were laid off? Response: 10

4.    What percentage of employees at the AOC have had an annual performance appraisal as is required by AOC Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual, Section 3.9, since the acceptance of the SEC report by the Judicial Council (June 21, 2012)? Response: We have no records responsive to this request.

5.    Has any employee of the AOC had an annual performance appraisal as is required by AOC Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual, Section 3.9, since the acceptance of the SEC report by the Judicial Council (June 21, 2012)? Response: We have no records responsive to this request.
a.    If yes, how many?

6.    Are the staffing levels at the AOC including authorized positions, 909 staff, temporary employees, agency temps, and contract employees posted online in a manner easily understandable to the public?   Response: Yes
a.    If so, where? The list of AOC staff levels is posted at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/hr-aoc-staffing-metrics.pdf

7.    Reviewing the AOC web site regarding progress toward implementing the SEC recommendations, it appears that rather than moving forward on many items, the Judicial Council has authorized further studies of the study.
a.    How many additional studies have been authorized, requested or commissioned in connection with the SEC report by the Judicial Council, its various committees or sub-committees or the AOC? Response: We have no record that counts additional studies that have been authorized, requested or commissioned by the Judicial Council with regard to implementation of the council directives. A status report reflecting the status of all Judicial Council directives may be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/jc-20131213-info1.pdf
b.    What are the names or designations given to these studies? Response: See response to 7a, above.

8.    The AOC web site indicates “The total number of ‘authorized’ CFCC positions has been reduced by 32%.”
a.    Was any person in the CFCC laid off since June 21, 2012 as part of designating this item ‘complete’ (not including elimination of unfilled but ‘authorized’ positions or those who retired or were given paid separation agreements)? Response: No
b.    If yes, how many full time employees were laid off?

9.    The AOC web site indicates “the number of AOC employees in research classifications has declined by approximately 45%.”
a.    Was any person laid off since June 21, 2012 as a part of this 45% decline (not including persons transferred to other jobs within the AOC or who retired or were given paid separation agreements)?  Response: No
b.    If yes, how many full time employees were laid off

10. The SEC report noted that the “Education Division’s current staffing is one of the highest in the AOC and should be reduced.”
a.    Was any person in the Education Division laid off since June 21, 2012 as part of designating this item ‘complete’ (not including persons transferred to other jobs within the AOC or who retired or were given paid separation agreements)?  Response: No
b.    If yes, how many full time employees were laid off?

11. The SEC report notes “The Administrative Services unit contains more than 20 staff engaged in support activities such as records management, printing and copying, scheduling and planning training delivery and coordinating logistics for AOC events . . . . and should be reduced . . . .”
a.    Was any person from the Administrative Services unit laid off since June 21, 2012 as part of designating this item ‘complete’ (not including persons transferred to other jobs within the AOC or who retired or were given paid separation agreements)?  Response: No
b.    If yes, how many full time employees were laid off?

12. The SEC report notes that with the abandonment of CCMS “Unnecessary CCMS positions should be eliminated.”
a.    How many full time CCMS AOC employees since the SEC report was accepted by the Judicial Council (since June 21, 2012) have been laid off (not temporary employees, agency temps, contract employees or those who retired or were given paid separation agreements)? Response: Answers to all of the questions posed under 12 are based on the assumption that the term “CCMS” refers to the comprehensive case management system that was not deployed, and not modules currently in use in some California courts. The answer to this question is 6
b.    How many full time employees assigned to or working on CCMS remain at the AOC? Response: 0
c.    How many contract employees assigned to or working on CCMS remain at the AOC? Response: 0
d.    How many temporary employees assigned to or working on CCMS remain at the AOC? Response: 0
e.    How many 909 employees assigned to or working on CCMS remain at the AOC? Response: 0
f.     Are there any other persons, however the AOC designates them, who are assigned to or working on CCMS?  If so, how many and how does the AOC classify them? Response: No

AOC's new Guidelines

Who were the persons involved in the drafting and development of the AOC's new Guidelines for the Administration of Branchwide Projects and Initiatives, which are supposed to be presented at the Judicial Council meeting this month? Response: See below

Please provide a copy of these new Guidelines. Response: We are assuming this question refers to the guidelines for conducting cost-benefit analysis for AOC projects. A copy of these guidelines (with contact information) may be accessed at the following link: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/jc-20131213-itemY.pdf.

Was there, or is there planned, any comment period for these proposed guidelines? Response: These guidelines were discussed at the at December the Judicial Council
Have there been any Branchwide Projects and Initiatives since the SEC report was accepted? Response: Please provide additional information so that we may better understand the information you are requesting.

AOC Pay Raises

Between the periods July 1, 2013 and December 11, 2013, how many AOC employees received a step increase? Response: The information you request is only reported as of the end of each month. Between July 1, 2013 and November 30, 2013 – 171 have received a step increase.

Judge Jahr

As of today’s date, December 11, 2013 has there been an annual review of the performance of the Administrative Director of the Courts? Response: Because your request calls for information not set forth in judicial administrative records, it is being referred to Justice Harry Hull, the Chief Justice’s designee for considering such requests, pursuant to AOC policy 2.8 (Responding to Requests for Judicial Administrative Records and Information).

If so, did the review consider input from persons inside and outside the judicial branch?  If so, who?
Response: Because your request calls for information not set forth in judicial administrative records, it is being referred to Justice Harry Hull, the Chief Justice’s designee for considering such requests, pursuant to AOC policy 2.8 (Responding to Requests for Judicial Administrative Records and Information).

CHP Contract

Are there any records, books, documents, papers or accounting records revealing how money has been spent under the AOC Statewide Protective Services Agreement with the California Highway Patrol?
Response: A response will be provided to you within 1 week.

Is there any accounting or recordkeeping which would reveal how much money was authorized for the transportation of judicial officers? Response: A response will be provided to you within 1 week.

Is there any accounting or recordkeeping which would reveal how much money was authorized for transportation of Judicial Council Members? Response: A response will be provided to you within 1 week.

Is there any accounting or recordkeeping which would reveal how much money was authorized for transportation of members of the Commission on Judicial Performance? Response: The Commission on Judicial Performance is not a judicial branch entity under rule 10.500. Administrative Office of the Courts has no records relating to contracts by or expenditures of the Commission on Judicial Performance.


Very Truly,


The Honorable Kevin J. McCormick
Judge of the Superior Court, County of Sacramento
Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse
720 9th Street,  Sacramento CA  95814
(916) 874-5237

 

 
Alliance of California Judges
1817 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA  95811

If you wish to unsubscribe from this mailing list, please reply to this email.