Saturday, June 25, 2011

Judges Seek Less "Devastating" Budget Second Time Around

Governor Jerry Brown's nearly-instantaneous veto of the budget sent to him by the Democratic majorities in both legislative houses last week inspired a host of disparate emotions thoughout the state.  For the state's courts, however, there was just one emotion:  Relief.

The day after the veto, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued a press release praising the governor's action, which she said "will provide us with an opportunity to continue negotiating with the Legislature and demonstrate why the courts would be devastated by additional cuts in funding."

Last Wednesday (June 22), 122 judges and court executives from throughout the state (6 administrative presiding justices of the California Courts of Appeal and the 58 presiding judges and 58 court executive officers of the California trial courts) sent a letter to the Governor and members of the Legislature expressing their “strong and unified opposition” to legislative efforts that would "further reduce the judicial branch budget and erode the civil rights of Californians." The press release announcing the sending of the letter referred to the unified action as unprecedented - and perhaps particularly so in this year, which has been marked by so much division between different organizations of judges, groups within those organizations, and of course the AOC, over trial court funding issues and the dead-until-January AB 1208 (see earlier post).

So far the letter has generated an article in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise legal newspaper, and  a detailed press release by the San Francisco Superior Court appears to have generated a much more thorough San Francisco-specific article in the San Fracisco Examiner.  To this point, however, there has been little additional news coverage that this blogger has been able to identify.

Of course, the fact that the Governor vetoed the first budget as being out of balance and too reliant on over-optimistic revenue projections, legally suspect funding increases, creative accounting, and the other usual suspects, does not bode well for increased funding for the courts - or any other governmental agency or program.

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