September 23, 2011
In a recent article in the Daily Journal [subscription required], Don DeBenedictis reports that Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye delivered a fiery speech against AB 1208, the Trial Court Rights Act, last week at the annual dinner of the California Women Lawyers. As we’ve discussed, the bill would shift control over trial court funding from the Judicial Council to the individual trial courts. Speaking for herself and not on behalf of the Supreme Court or the Judicial Council, the Chief called the bill “‘a raw, unmitigated power grab.’” The Chief also suggested the bill might have been strategically timed for the period when the leadership of the judicial branch was in transition, noting that former Chief Justice Ronald M. George did not have to deal with this challenge during his 14 years as Chief, but she was confronted with the bill just 47 days after assuming her post. Echoing comments she has made in the past, the Chief condemned the bill as “‘antithetical to the way the judicial branch does business. . . . We don’t try to . . . enforce change without going through a deliberative process.’”
The bill did not reach a vote in the Assembly this year. De Benedictis reports that the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Majority Leader Charles M. Calderon (D – Whittier), has confirmed that he intends to move ahead with the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.