March 14, 2011

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye makes the case for letting the judicial branch sort out court governance issues rather than turning that task over to the Legislature

The Recorder’s Legal Pad reports today that the California Judges Association will be polling its members—active and retired judges and commissioners at all levels in the state judiciary—about their views on the proposed Trial Court Rights Act (AB 1208). As has previously been reported, that act challenges measures instituted over time under the watch of former Chief Justice Ron George, who sought to centralize various aspects of court governance to enhance funding stability and operational predictability for litigants. As reflected in one of our prior posts, some judges feel those measures have placed too much power in the Judicial Council, and have sponsored AB 1208 as a result.

Last Friday, as keynote speaker at the annual seminar put on by the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, our new Chief alluded to the proposed legislation when she told the judges and lawyers in attendance that the judicial branch should be given the opportunity to sort out its own operational issues, without involvement from the Legislature. Justice Cantil-Sakauye argued that the education and problem-solving skills one gains on the path to becoming a judicial officer are well suited to addressing the challenges faced by the judicial branch as a result of the state’s current funding crisis, and she suggested that good communication and cooperation within that branch is a better way to improve the court system than engaging in a legislative battle.

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