BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 1208 (Charles Calderon)
          As Amended May 18, 2011
          Majority vote 

           JUDICIARY           7-2         APPROPRIATIONS      14-1        
           
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          |Ayes:|Feuer, Wagner, Atkins,    |Ayes:|Fuentes, Harkey,          |
          |     |Dickinson, Huber, Jones,  |     |Blumenfield, Bradford,    |
          |     |Wieckowski                |     |Charles Calderon, Davis,  |
          |     |                          |     |Donnelly, Gatto, Hall,    |
          |     |                          |     |Hill, Lara, Norby,        |
          |     |                          |     |Solorio, Wagner           |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |Nays:|Huffman, Monning          |Nays:|Mitchell                  |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to address governance and funding within 
          California's judicial branch.  Specifically, among other 
          provisions,  this bill  :  

          1)Deletes the existing provision of law that states that the 
            Judicial Council shall retain the ultimate responsibility to 
            adopt a budget and allocate funding for the trial courts and 
            perform specified activities that best assure their ability to 
            carry out their functions, promote implementation of statewide 
            policies, and promote the immediate implementation of 
            efficiencies and cost saving measures in court operations, in 
            order to guarantee equal access to the courts.

          2)Also deletes existing provisions which empower the Judicial 
            Council to authorize a trial court to carry unexpended funds 
            over from one fiscal year to the next, and instead provides 
            that unexpended funds shall be the funds of that trial court, 
            which may carry those unexpended funds over from one fiscal 
            year to the next.  Prohibits those funds from being 
            reallocated or redirected without the consent of the 
            management of the trial court. 

          3)Requires the Judicial Council, or its designee, to allocate 
            100% of the funds appropriated for support of trial court 
            operations according to each court's share of statewide 








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            operational funding.  Provides that all funds, once allocated, 
            are funds of the trial court, and authorizes courts to 
            transfer funds between functions, line items or programs as 
            directed by management of the trial court.

          4)Deletes existing provisions relating to the manner in which 
            the Judicial Council allocates funding for trial court 
            operations, and instead requires that the amount allocated to 
            each trial court from the amount appropriated for trial court 
            operations be equal to the pro rata share of the prior fiscal 
            year's adjusted base budget, except as provided.

          5)Requires the Legislature, based on the information submitted 
            in the Governor's proposed budget, and prior to the allocation 
            of funds to each local trial court, to specify, in each annual 
            Budget Act, the funding amounts to be allocated for programs 
            of statewide concern from the total funds appropriated for 
            trial court operations by the Legislature. 

          6)Prohibits the Judicial Council, or its designee, from 
            withholding or expending any portion of the total funds 
            appropriated for trial court operations by the Legislature for 
            any statewide information technology or administrative 
            infrastructure program that was not identified in the annual 
            Budget Act, unless the Judicial Council, or its designee, 
            first obtains the written approval of 662/3% of a proportional 
            representation of all local trial courts as determined by the 
            number of judges in each court.
             
           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Consolidates funding for trial court operations centrally at 
            the state level under the administration of the judicial 
            branch's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).  

          2)Provides that notwithstanding any other law, the Judicial 
            Council may regulate the budget and fiscal management of the 
            trial courts.  The Judicial Council, in consultation with the 
            Controller, shall maintain appropriate regulations for 
            recordkeeping and accounting by the courts.  

          3)Provides that the Judicial Council shall allocate funds to the 
            individual trial courts pursuant to an allocation schedule 
            adopted by the Judicial Council which meets minimum funding 








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            levels as set forth in statute, and provides that the Judicial 
            Council shall allocate funds to ensure the courts can carry 
            out their functions, promote statewide policies, promote court 
            efficiencies and cost savings in court operations.    

          4)Provides that the Judicial Council shall adopt rules which 
            establish a decentralized system of trial court management, 
            and provides that the Judicial Council shall adopt policies 
            and procedures about moving funding between functions or line 
            items or programs.  
            
          5)Grants the Judicial Council authority to use trial court funds 
            to develop statewide information technology systems and to 
            create regulations for trial courts' recordkeeping and 
            accounting.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations 
          Committee, to the extent the bill's limitations hinder the 
          efficient allocation of resources within the judicial branch, 
          costs within the overall system would increase.  The impact of 
          this bill would largely depend on the extent to which the AOC's 
          requested budgets accurately delineate the resources required 
          for  all  statewide programs and the Legislature schedules each of 
          these programs in the annual Budget Act.  (Past practice has 
          been to schedule certain statewide programs in the Budget Act, 
          such as court appointed special advocates, but not all programs, 
          such as information technology projects and activities.)   Given 
          the inherent uncertainty in budgeting for IT projects in 
          particular, the budgeting restrictions in this bill could be 
          particularly problematic, as the need for additional resources 
          subsequent to budget enactment would require concurrence of 
          two-thirds of the trial courts on a proportionate basis.
           
          COMMENTS  :  This measure seeks to address governance practices 
          and budgeting authority within California's judicial branch.  It 
          is an outgrowth of substantial discontent that has arisen in 
          recent years among an unknown number of superior court judges 
          who contend that trial courts have not had their 
          constitutionally-protected administrative and financial 
          independence appropriately respected by the administrative arm 
          of the judiciary, the AOC, and its governing authority, the 
          Judicial Council of California (the "Judicial Council").  By 
          many accounts, much of this discontent appears to grow out of a 
          perception by some trial court judges that under prior 








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          leadership, the Judicial Council was not sufficiently open to, 
          or inclusive of, dissenting views regarding important issues of 
          internal judicial branch management.  

          This measure was introduced on February 18, 2011, approximately 
          one month after California's new chief justice, Tani 
          Cantil-Sakauye, was sworn in to take the helm of the state's 
          judicial branch during a difficult time of severe budget cuts, 
          furloughed employees, and great uncertainty in the court system. 
           The bill is supported by some trial courts as well as a group 
          of state trial court judges known as the Alliance of California 
          Judges, and it is opposed by the California Commission on Access 
          to Justice, the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), 
          the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), the California 
          Defense Counsel, the California Chamber of Commerce, the 
          Judicial Council, and some other trial courts, as well as a 
          number of appellate and trial court judges.  

          In support of the measure, the author has stated in part that:  

                The Trial Court Funding Act was enacted to ensure equitable 
               distribution of funds to trial courts by transferring the 
               principal funding responsibility to the state of 
               California. The Legislature never intended to strip the 
               trial courts of their independence to manage themselves and 
               to meet their constitutional obligations?  The Court Case 
               Management System (CCMS) illustrates the problem.  
               According to the State Auditor Report, the AOC has spent 
               $407 million as of June 2010, averaging $50 million a year 
               for a software system riddled with problems. To put these 
               figures into perspective, the Judicial Council closed court 
               houses 1-day a month to save $90 million instead of 
               eliminating CCMS funding.  Additionally, the audit report 
               estimated the total cost of finishing the CCMS system at 
               $1.9 billion, averaging $300 million a year for the next 5 
               years, which does not include the cost of implementing the 
               system.  Because trial courts lack control over their own 
               finances, they have been unable to either prevent court 
               closures or the use of their funds for CCMS?

          In addition, the author also has stated in support that 
          "Judicial Council has attempted a number of projects since the 
          enactment of the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act.  It 
          has created a number of court houses, it has undertaken court 








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          maintenance, it has developed a statewide case file computer 
          system, and it has dealt with state budget cuts.  It has failed 
          to adequately deal with, develop, and execute each one of these 
          projects."  Proponents of the bill state, for example, that 
          "Court houses were closed one day a month to deal with budget 
          cuts.  It did this to save $90 million.  At the same time, 
          Judicial Council transferred $72 million from the Trial Court 
          Trust Fund (used primarily to pay for court operations) to 
          develop CCMS.  It seems that access to justice would be better 
          served by keeping court houses open instead of funding the 
          development of CCMS."  

          In further support of the measure, the bill's trial court 
          proponents point to what they contend are a number of examples 
          of what they perceive to be excessive interference by the AOC 
          into the management and administration of their trial courts.  
          Proponents argue in essence that the Judicial Council has 
          exercised too much power over how trial courts spend what they 
          perceive to be their own money.  Among other issues, proponents 
          contend that trial courts should be able to make such 
          fundamental court decisions as whether and when to close court 
          facilities, or choose instead to take alternative emergency 
          measures of their own design.  They especially point their 
          collective frustration at longtime leaders within the AOC, whom 
          they forcefully assert have been un-collaborative and 
          uncompromising. 

          In support of the measure, leaders of the Alliance of California 
          Judges state they abhor what they call the "erosion" of the 
          power of trial courts in California since the passage of the 
          Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act in 1997.  They suggest 
          that since enactment of the Funding Act and subsequent laws, 
          there has been a power imbalance within the judiciary, placing 
          what they conceive as too much power in the hands of a flawed 
          AOC.    

          Opponents of the measure vigorously contend that the bill is an 
          unwarranted and unwise intrusion into the internal governance of 
          the judicial branch of government.  Many in the judiciary, 
          opponents concede, are similarly troubled by the serious 
          problems associated with the AOC's implementation of the 
          judiciary's "CCMS" computer system.  But, they contend, general 
          branch governance concerns should be solved within the 
          judiciary, under the leadership of the new chief justice, whom, 








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          they note, has already publicly stated she is open to making 
          whatever governance changes may make sense after she has 
          reasonable time to review these issues in detail.  The new chief 
          justice should at a minimum, they contend, be given reasonable 
          time to try to address such concerns within her own branch 
          before the Legislature seeks to step in.

          Opponents also state that the funding and other reforms since 
          1997 have enabled the Legislature to partner with the judiciary 
          to enact, with the strong leadership of the former chief 
          justice, new statewide justice initiatives including self-help 
          centers in all trial courts; expanded representation in 
          dependency cases; equal access funds for legal services agencies 
          for critical civil legal needs of low income persons; 
          interpreters in domestic violence cases; and innovations such as 
          expedited jury trials.  

          The Judicial Council, in strong opposition to the bill, states 
          that enactment of this measure would also be a significant 
          retreat from the restructuring of the judicial branch that has 
          occurred in the last fifteen years.  The Judicial Council writes 
          that:

               The goal of a statewide administration of justice was to 
               bring uniformity in administrative rules and processes, 
               avoid waste, create transparency in financial 
               accountability, establish uniform performance and education 
               and training standards, and ensure equal access to justice 
               for all Californians, while at the same time recognizing 
               the authority and responsibility of superior courts to 
               manage their day-to-day operations and provide for a 
               decentralized system of trial court management.  AB 1208 
               moves in the opposite direction.  In fact, AB 1208 deletes 
               provisions of the Government Code which spell out the 
               responsibility of the Judicial Council to adopt a budget 
               and allocate funding in a manner that best assures the 
               courts' ability to carry out their functions, promote 
               implementation of statewide policies, and promote the 
               immediate implementation of efficiencies and cost saving 
               measures in court operations, in order to guarantee equal 
               access to the courts? Finally, by striking references to 
               the goals that are to inform council decisions on 
               allocating funding, the bill appears to seek to dismantle 
               the goals of a statewide judicial branch, instead making 








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               the paramount consideration each court's individual needs 
               and interests, without regard to uniformity and consistency 
               for the users of the court system, and seeking to ensure 
               equal access to justice statewide.  This is exacerbated by 
               the amendments which eliminate the ability of the Judicial 
               Council to direct increased allocations to, or mitigate the 
               impact of budget reductions to under-resourced courts or 
               courts with fiscal emergencies (accomplished by the bill 
               requiring that the amount allocated to each trial court be 
               equal to the pro rata share of the adjusted base budget of 
               the prior fiscal year). 
           
          CCMS  :  As noted above, a major fuel for concern among some trial 
          courts and many judicial officers across the state regarding 
          prior governance practices by the AOC and Judicial Council 
          unquestionably has involved serious problems surrounding the 
          Judicial Branch's implementation of the Court Case Management 
          System (CCMS).  According to AOC records, when the state assumed 
          responsibility for funding the trial courts in 1998, more than 
          130 variations of 70 independently operated systems were used in 
          California's trial courts, having been developed by counties, 
          courts, and private commercial vendors.  Thus the goal of the 
          CCMS system was to replace the many incompatible existing 
          systems trial courts currently have in use with a single 
          statewide computer system.  

          In the recent painful climate of employee furloughs and severe 
          budget cutbacks across trial courts in California, proponents of 
          the bill repeatedly have pointed to what they call the 
          "boondoggle" of $1.9 to $3 billion now anticipated to be spent 
          developing CCMS.  On February 8, 2011, the California State 
          Auditor released an unusually scathing audit report of CCMS. 
          Amongst the key findings in the Auditor's report:  1) The AOC 
          inadequately planned the project since 2003, including over the 
          course of seven years, the AOC entered into 102 contract 
          amendments and increased the cost of the contract from $33 
          million to $310 million; 2) The AOC has consistently failed to 
          develop accurate cost estimates or timelines on the project, and 
          annual reports to the Legislature did not provide complete cost 
          information.  The estimated date for complete deployment has 
          been pushed back by seven years; 3) The majority of the courts 
          believe their current case management systems will serve them 
          for the foreseeable future and users of interim systems 
          expressed reservations about using CCMS; and, 4) The AOC's 








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          attempt at independent oversight came late in the life of the 
          project, and the AOC did not adequately address significant 
          concerns raised by the consultant providing the oversight and 
          thus, the project may have future quality issues.

          The Auditor made extensive and broad recommendations to the AOC, 
          including that it take steps to fully understand and address the 
          trial courts' concerns as implementation moves forward and 
          retain an independent consultant to review CCMS before 
          deployment to determine if there are quality issues and 
          problems.  The AOC belatedly agreed to implement all of the 
          Auditor's recommendations, though the bill's proponents 
          repeatedly criticize what they contend was an unreasonable 
          length of time for top AOC management to accept responsibility 
          for missteps and to take needed remedial actions.  

          Proponents of this measure agree that as currently drafted, the 
          bill would effectively give a very small combination of trial 
          courts in California a "veto" over the further development of a 
          statewide court computer system, or any interconnected financial 
          accounting system generally, if the goal of the system is a 
          statewide approach ultimately connecting all 58 state trial 
          courts.  Opponents point to the analysis of the Appropriations 
          Committee, which states in this regard that "Given the inherent 
          uncertainty in budgeting for IT projects in particular, the 
          budgeting restrictions in this bill could be particularly 
          problematic, as the need for additional resources subsequent to 
          budget enactment would require concurrence of two-thirds of the 
          trial courts on a proportionate basis."

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :  Drew Liebert  / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 


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