January 17, 2011
This month’s California Lawyer contains an in-depth article by Claire Cooper that discusses former Chief Justice Ronald M. George’s legacy as a court administrator. The article documents how George achieved his goals of state funding for the trial courts, unification of the superior and municipal courts, and the transfer of county court facilities to state ownership and responsibility. The article notes that an important side-effect of George’s successful efforts at centralization has been the growth in the size and influence of the Administrative Office of the Courts. The article also discusses how the concentration of administrative authority in the hands of the AOC, combined with the state’s fiscal difficulties, has prompted a reaction by some California judges, who in 2009 formed the Alliance of California Judges to advocate local autonomy. Given Governor Jerry Brown’s recent proposal to shift power in many areas from the state government to local municipalities, it may be that those who advocate the decentralization of court administration will now find a sympathetic ear in Sacramento.