We are pleased to report that yesterday afternoon the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted unanimously to authorize a complete audit of the Administrative Office of the Courts as requested by Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer. As you know, this is an audit long sought by the Alliance of California Judges. We thank Mr. Jones-Sawyer for his carefully considered and timely request. We also thank the members of the committee who voted to approve: Assemblymembers Adam Gray, Katcho Achadjian, Raul Bocanegra, Allan Mansoor and Anthony Renden, and Senators Ricardo Lara, Anthony Cannella, Jim Beall, Mark DeSaulnier and Jean Fuller.
Alliance Directors David Lampe, Susan Lopez-Giss, Kent Hamlin, John Adams, and Tia Fisher joined Alliance President Steve White in testifying in favor of the audit.
We also provide you with a link to an editorial comment by Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee about the audit hearing.
The audit will include, among other matters, an examination of whether the AOC is in compliance with the terms of SB 1021. You will recall that this Senate Bill enacted many of the key provisions of AB 1208, sponsored by the Alliance, including the termination of CCMS and the requirement that all funds appropriated for trial court operations be delivered to the trial courts. Elaine Howell, the State Auditor, has reported on the scope of the audit, which is outlined here.
AUDIT SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES
The audit by the California State Auditor will provide independently developed and verified
information related to the funds administered by the Judicial Council of California (Judicial
Council) and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and will include, but not be limited
to, the following:
1. Review and evaluate the laws, rules, and regulations significant to the audit objectives.
2. Determine whether the Judicial Council and the AOC have complied with the key reforms
contained in SB 1021.
3. Determine whether the AOC’s methodology for determining its budget for administration
and staffing is consistent with the best practices of one or more comparable-sized
4. Determine the size and composition of the AOC’s staff. Analyze whether staffing is
appropriate for the AOC’s mission. Determine whether reductions in trial court funding
over the last three years have made any of the AOC’s functions unnecessary. If so, assess
whether the Judicial Branch of California (Judicial Branch) can re-direct funds for these AOC
functions to trial court operations.
5. Determine whether the Judicial Branch has any reserves, contingency funds, or any other
set-asides that could be made available immediately for trial court operations.
6. Review and assess any other issues that are significant to the audit.
The audit report is expected within five to seven months. We trust that this audit will begin the process of reestablishing relationships within the Judiciary and with the Legislature and Executive Branches, that it will help restore trust to ensure adequate funding of our courts to keep them staffed and open, and that it will inform the process of reform as needed.
Very truly yours,
Directors of the Alliance of California Judges