Judges and court workers applaud landmark decision to audit court bureaucracy

March 12, 2014

Contact: Mike Roth 916-444-7170

Sacramento, CA – California judges and workers who keep California’s courts running applauded the Legislature’s decision to audit the books of California’s courts bureaucracy, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

“The California Alliance of Judges welcomes the Legislature’s decision to open the books of the insular bureaucracy that oversees our courts. Years of mismanagement and misspending have damaged the core mission of our courts to serve justice for Californians. The only way to restore confidence in the judicial branch is to shine light on the spending priorities of the Judicial Council and AOC, and hold its leaders accountable for prioritizing justice,” said Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White, President of the Alliance of California Judges.

“Court workers are on the front lines of the budgetary crisis in the courts and have suffered unparalleled cuts due to the impact of the judicial council’s misplaced fiscal priorities. We’ve felt it from the thousands of layoffs of court staff and with the cutbacks to critical services like court reporting and court clerks, positions essential to keeping the courts functioning. We see how wasteful bureaucratic spending shortchanges Californians who come to their local courthouse only to find the lines long or, even worse, the doors locked. We are very pleased that the Legislature is doing its job to oversee the proper use of taxpayer dollars that support our courts, and that they are working to ensure that justice comes firsts,” said Carlos Martinez, Court Reporter with Sonoma County Superior Courts.

The action by the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee to demand a full accounting of operating funds allocated to the judicial branch is unprecedented in its scope. While legislation passed as part of the budget package in 2012 aimed to prevent the AOC from shifting trial court operations funding to pay for AOC operations, the AOC’s and Judicial Council’s history of insular decision making, lack of transparency, and concerted decisions to hide the source of funding for projects mean the public cannot be sure funding for the core mission of the courts is protected without a thorough review of the books.

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