Ron - the situation is far
worse than is stated in this article. I attended a
State of the Court event given by the Los Angeles
Superior Court Presiding and Asst. Presiding judges.
They informed me that:
1. LA County handles 29% of
2. LA County Superior
Ct. will have to lay off 500-600 employees due to
lack of funds.
3. LA County Superior Ct.
will have to reduce the amount of courtrooms used
for limited jurisdiction cases [these are cases over
the Small claims amount and under $25K].
4. IF the tax initiative on
the Nov. ballot doesn't pass, more cuts will be
5. In Riverside soon no
civil cases will be able to be heard due to the
criminal caseload, even with the new DA who replaced
Pacheco to reduce the flow of criminal cases into
6. The new case management
case computer program isn't available and some
measures are being used to stopgap IT issues with
7. I asked why the court
doesn't use the same program used in federal
courts. It was claimed that LA County has more
cases than all the federal courts and so that
program can't handle such a large numbers of cases.
[Even though my friend, Asst Presiding Judge David
Wesley, said this to me, I just can't believe that
8. Things are going to get
worse for courts from a funding point of view.
9. Pro pers are pouring into
the courts as fewer and fewer attorneys are
available, or are affordable to the middle class,
especially in bankruptcy and family law, but are
using legal document preparers, but those preparers
can't give legal advice, so the paperwork is usually
defective and slows the courts down quite a bit.
- Brad Henschel, JD
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"How many legs does a dog have if you call the
tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail
a leg doesn't make it a leg." - Abraham Lincoln
Ship Taking On Water
And Leaning To The Left
"Every kingdom divided against itself is
brought to desolation; and every city or house
divided against itself shall not stand:"
Editorial: Bill by
dissident judges overreaches
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6E
The Legislature should not meddle in
the internal affairs of the judiciary. A bill
headed to a vote in the Assembly on Monday would
do exactly that, and should be rejected.
California's judicial branch has been
battered by the recession, like the rest of
state government. Trial courts have taken the
brunt of the beating. They lost $350 million in
the current state budget cycle. This is on top
of nearly $300 million in cuts absorbed over the
last five years. Courtrooms have been closed
temporarily, and hundreds of court employees
Some beleaguered judges blame the
Administrative Office of the Courts, which they
see as profligate and out of touch. They also
have turned their anger at the Judicial Council,
which sets policy for courts statewide.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon, a
Whittier Democrat, is pushing a bill, Assembly
Bill 1208, on behalf of a secretive group of
judges called the Alliance of California Judges
and the Service
Employees International Union, which
represents courthouse employees. Alliance
leaders say they represent 400 judges, but won't
reveal names, claiming that the jurists might
Calderon's bill would shift funding
authority away from the Judicial Council and
require that state funds be allocated by formula
to the county trial courts instead. Some of the
judges' criticism of the Administrative Office
of the Courts and the Judicial Council is
legitimate, but this measure goes too far.
Fifteen years ago, landmark legislation
transformed the judiciary from a county-based
system to a statewide system. It was the right
thing to do.
A jumble of different procedures and
rules that changed from county to county was
made uniform. Access to justice became more
equal, whether litigants filed their divorce
papers in Yolo or San Francisco,
or their lawsuit in Sacramento or Riverside, or
faced criminal charges in Modoc or Los Angeles
counties. The power of the purse resides with the
chief justice of the state Supreme Court,
who heads the Judicial Council, most of whose
members the chief justice picks.
But critics say that under the new
statewide structure, too much money was siphoned
from the core functions of the trial courts to
pet projects of the Judicial Council.
Dissident judges were particularly
incensed when a statewide court computer project
ballooned from its original estimate of $290
million to $1.9 billion.
Despite real problems, the overall
structure of the court system
is fundamentally sound.
To alter it by returning more autonomy
to county courts would be a mistake. And most
people who practice regularly in California
courtrooms know that. Opposition to AB 1208
includes 44 of 58 presiding judges of the county
Defense attorneys oppose the bill, as
do plaintiffs' lawyers and an organization that
represents big business interests that are
targets of lawsuits.
These interests fiercely oppose each
other in courtrooms, but are united in their
opposition to this bill. Lawmakers must not
Calderon introduced his bill as Chief
Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was taking the reins
of the state judiciary. She has made an effort
to meet with the dissidents – difficult, given
the fact that alliance judges chose to keep
their membership secret.
Nonetheless, Cantil-Sakauye has placed
some alliance judges who have revealed their
identities on state court committees. She has
surveyed every presiding judge in the state to
get feedback on what they think are the
problems. She says she is working to implement
Dissident judges need to let those
steps take hold. They should not let the
Legislature meddle with the judicial branch's