Court Funding Gets S.D. ABC Report

The San Diego ABC News affiliate is offering some “overview” coverage of the state’s civil courts funding crisis. The story offers nothing new, but is a recent example of more mainstream press starting to notice the “five-year” crisis in justice funding. The reporters offer the insight that “Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to solve the problem” – they cite no source, but certainly plenty of justice advocates would question the governor’s motives.
The usual territory is covered: Gov. Brown’s proposed a $105 million budget increase for 14/15 and the station asks:  But is it enough to help the judicial system bounce back? We also get what has become the most-quoted talking point from California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, “We are rationing justice, and it’s become more than a fiscal problem… it is in my view not a civil rights problem.”
Also cites is the failed statewide computer system, with the ABC report saying that “… eyebrows were raised over the $1.2 billion that was spent on a computer system overhaul — a computer system that never worked.” You can read more between the lines here: Budget woes: Can California’s judicial system recover from a five-year crisis?

Pandora’s Box: Dems Should Pay Close Attention to Victims Facing Asbestos Perjury Claims

Sara Warner, publisher of the California Courts Monitor, has a national Huffington Post column outlining how a North Carolina bankruptcy case might uncover enough scandal to become a Democratic political liability. In particular, she says the legal system is thinking in terms of “claimants” instead of thinking in terms of “victims.” She even calls for a Senate investigation. <a href=”” target=”_blank”>See the story here.</a>

MetNews Continues Judicial Election Profiles

One candidate refused to discuss a “not qualified” finding and the other came under fire for her performance in a spousal abuse case where a husband was released from custody and killed his wife. Both of those candidates are profiled as The Metropolitan News Enterprise continues its coverage of the June 3 primary election that will pick several new Los Angeles Superior Court judges. reports Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Emma Castro is running become a Los Angeles Superior court Judge in a primary scheduled for June 3, 2014. reports Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Emma Castro is running become a Los Angeles Superior court Judge in a primary scheduled for June 3, 2014.

In one race, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Emma Castro is running against Deputy District Attorney Joan M. Chrostek, and the MetNews reports that “… Castro was found ‘not qualified’ for a judgeship by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation—something she refuses to discuss. A Los Angeles County Bar Association Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee subcommittee this month adjudged her “qualified” and she has opted not to appeal.”

 The report also reports of her opponent “… Chrostek, who was taken to task in a 2008 report by her office for deficient performance in a spousal abuse case—which culminated in a husband with dangerous propensties being released from custody and proceeding to slay his wife—is presently appealing a JEEC rating of ‘not qualified.’” Read the story and follow the profiles here.

Beware Court-Styled Scam Artists

Superior Court officials in several SoCal jurisdictions are reporting scams that involve email or phone contacts alleging that somebody has missed jury duty or committed some other infraction, and owes money. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego counties are among those where fraud has been reported.
Michael Roddy, Executive Officer of the San Diego Superior Court, offered some advice: “It’s important to reiterate to the public that we do not communicate with those with issues before the court via unsolicited email or telephone. If anyone tries to contact you regarding “missed jury duty” or cases of which you are unaware, you should delete the email or disregard the phone call.” 
The NBC affiliate station in San Diego has this report

‘Alliance’ Judges Continue Court Critique

The Alliance of California Judges, a group that offered a statewide voice to critics of how the courts are being operated, is continuing its critique. As the annual state budget season shifts into high gear, and with the state chief justice saying that funding has become a civil rights issue, the Alliance asserts that the very system of funding is flawed.
“Former Chief Justice Ronald George’s vision of a unified judicial branch — directed by a central bureaucracy, bound together by a massive computer network, housed in dozens of gleaming new courthouses, acting in unison with the Chief Justice at its head — has proven to be a mirage,” writes Maryanne Gilliard, a Superior Court Judge in Sacramento who has been active in the Alliance for years. In 2011, the Sacramento CBS TV news affiliate called her a “whistleblower” in connection with the failed attempt to consolidate the state’s court computers (see coverage here).
Writing in The Courthouse News, Judge Gilliard uses Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s own words in support of her point, in particular noting that the centralized vision has not led to stable funding and that the “CCMS” computer system’s $500 million is “the most prominent example” of poor oversight.
It’s the latest salvo showing that the Alliance remains active. Read it here

MetNews Continues Judicial Election Profiles

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise is continuing its 2014 Los Angeles Superior Court judicial election coverage with interesting profiles in one of the year’s more interesting races: Charles M. Calderon vs. Carol Rose. He is a former state lawmaker who served as a majority leader in both the state Senate and Assembly and she has not sought public office before.
Calderon belongs to one of the state’s political families, but his brothers – state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon and former Assemblyman Tom Calderon – are under indictment on corruption charges. In the odd judicial elections, a key is the three-word “occupation” description and Rose, a deputy district attorney, is running as “Child Molestation Prosecutor.” Calderon is running as “Retired Lawmaker Assemblyman.”
The MetNews even makes sense of how the ongoing controversy might sway how important “slate” coalitions are formed. The election is June 3 and you can see the excellent MetNews coverage here.

Dems Endorse For LASC Judgeships


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The Los Angeles County Democratic Party has named its endorsement for the 2014 L.A. Superior Court judicial elections while declining to endorse anyone in four of the ten races. The endorsements are included on the party’s website along with other state and local picks.

Endorsement included:  

Office 22 – Pamala F. Matsumoto
Office 48 – No Consensus
Office 54 – Debra L. Losnick
Office 61 – Jacqueline H. Lewis
Office 76 – Helen Kim
Office 87 – Andrew M. Stein
Office 97 – No Consensus
Office 107 – Emma Castro
Office 113 – No Consensus
Office 138 – No Endorsement

See more at:

Kansas Latest To Tie Cash To Judicial ‘Reform’

Kansas, like California, is following the national trend to tie state judicial reform to funding, leading the Wichita Eagle to editorialize against the changes as eroding court independence. The newspaper writes that “Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss warned this was coming, objecting in an Eagle commentary last month to ‘the diffusion of the unified court system’s centralized authority in exchange for money to keep courts open.’ 
The funding-linked legislation, pending a decision by Gov. Sam Brownback, would allow the chief judge of each of the state’s 31 judicial districts to submit and control his own budget. The Eagle fears that “… the new legislation also allows judges to select the chief judge for their own district court, further eroding the Supreme Court’s authority.” 
You can read a detailed argument on the Kansas argument here.

$70m Shortfall Is Budget Cred Issue

There’s another issue surfacing in the upcoming knock-down, drag-out fight over the 2014-15 California courts budget, and it likely works against increased judicial brand funding. The discussion involves an Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) estimate that filing fees and other sources would bring $1.3 billion million into the courts – but now those estimates are though to be short $70 million.
The Courthouse News reports that “… much of that shortfall was due to a long-term decline in filing revenue which the administrators said they were well aware of.” That, in turn, has sparked a debate over the AOC’s budget credibility as court officials lobby for something like $300 million of increased funding in the next state budget.
You can read Maria Dinzeo’s well-detailed account here.

Gov. May ‘Remake’ State Supreme Court

You can add “new supreme court” to the issues for Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election bid. The Los Angeles Times is taking notice that three of the high court’s seven justices are in their 70s and the governor is already making a second appointment to the bench. He is replacing Justice Joyce L. Kennard – considered a “moderate” by modern court standards.


The Times reports that “… he court, one of the nation’s most influential, has no Latino or African American, or anyone from Southern California. Brown faces political pressure to change that. Judges and lawyers are betting Brown will pick a Latino. Some analysts said they would not be surprised if he elevated San Francisco appeals court Justice James Humes, an openly gay lawyer who served Brown in the governor’s office and when he was attorney general.”
Of course, adds another longtime observer of both the court and the governor notes, Brown adds the wild card of “doing whatever he feels like doing.” It will be interesting if any of the potential candidates dare to make courts funding an issue in taking the job. Read the Times story here.