December 14, 2011
We’ve been following the progress of AB 1208. The proposed legislation, backed by the Alliance of California Judges, takes aim at California’s centralized system of court administration and challenges the authority of the Judicial Council and its administrative arm, the Administrative Office of the Courts. In the latest development, according to this article in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the Alliance’s directors sent a letter to the Judicial Council last Friday, asking the Council to take no official position on the measure at yesterday’s Council meeting. The MetNews reports that the letter, addressed to Justice Marvin Baxter in his role as chair of the Council’s Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee, asked the Council to state no position on AB 1208 so as to “‘allow the legislative process to go forward in a manner where all judges and courts can state their views on the bill directly to the Legislature . . .’” The Alliance also predicted that a vote by the Judicial Council “‘in opposition to this common sense measure will only further erode the Council’s relationship with the local trial courts.’”
The Alliance’s entreaties fell on deaf ears, however. In this article, the MetNews reports that during yesterday’s meeting, the Judicial Council voted to oppose AB 1208, with one abstention. According to this press release, the Council will “[c]ontinue to oppose Assembly Bill 1208 and similar efforts to legislate fundamental judicial branch governance, lessen the role of the Judicial Council in determining the allocation of funds to the trial courts, or reduce the council’s role in ensuring the stability of and providing oversight over trial court operations.” It’s fair to say that the battle lines have been clearly drawn for the coming struggle over AB 1208 when the Legislature reconvenes next month.