We’d like to call your attention to two recent articles about the judicial branch.
The first involves the issue of openness, the subject of several of our recent member e-mails. Californians Aware, a public information access watchdog group, released the results of its year-long review of how the courts respond to information requests under California Rules of Court, Rule 10.500. According to CalAware, "California courts are generally prompt and forthcoming in sharing with the public basic information about how they are administered, including specifics about the pay, benefits, and outside financial interests of judges and key executives."
The organization noted, however, that “the Administrative Office of the Courts has been singularly unresponsive."
CalAware asked the AOC for agendas and minutes of the Judicial Council's technology, executive and trial court budget committee meetings, the resumés and economic interests of the AOC's director, general counsel and top three highest paid executives, and any written policies governing public or press access to judicial administrative records. The AOC responded to only four of its ten requests. The AOC claims that it did respond with additional information, but CalAware’s general counsel states that he never received what the AOC says it sent. An article with further details is available at this link.
A rare piece of good news on the technology front comes from the Sacramento Superior Court. Sacramento recently rolled out the first court case search system in California built entirely in-house, without outside consultants. This new system was built without extra funding and will soon give free online public access. It stands in stark contrast to the AOC’s catastrophic Court Case Management System. Many of you will recall how ACJ president and former Presiding Judge Steve White fought off the AOC’s efforts to impose CCMS on Sacramento, and how former Presiding Judge Laurie Earl slammed a final version of CCMS in a scathing letter that helped contribute to the demise of the entire project.
The AOC has 161 IT employees in its San Francisco office alone. The Sacramento Superior Court has a total of 31 employees working on technology issues -- two of them wrote the code for this new court case search system. That leaves us asking the question, "If CCMS has been terminated, just what are those 161 people doing up there?" We suggest this is yet another example of why resources need to be redirected from the overlarded bureaucracy in San Francisco to the trial courts throughout the state.
A full article about the new system is at this link.
Very Truly Yours,
Directors, Alliance of California Judges