Legal Pad likes to think of itself as your one-stop e-shop for courts news. But someone out there has decided that the Administrative Office of the Courts needs more attention — and we’re not talking about the flattering kind.
Earlier this month, an anonymous blogger launched “AOC Watcher,” a site that takes a critical look at the state’s judicial administration and leadership. It includes links to various media reports, plus a few editorial zingers.
Zinger, of a sort, after the jump.
“… AOC Watcher likes to refer to [Chief] Justice [Ronald] George as King George,” the mystery blogger writes. “Especially when some years ago he made a comment that any questioning of the AOC and how it does its business would be taken as a declaration of war on the AOC. Excuse me?? Questioning a government agency funded by taxpayer dollars is a declaration of war? Okay, then.”
[A 2006 article (.pdf) by Bob Egelko in the California Courts Review tells the tale like this: "… the chief justice told a 2003 gathering of the California Judges Association that any attempt to democratize selection of Judicial Council members and reduce his appointment power would be considered 'a declaration of war.'"]
Anger with the chief justice and other judicial leaders has been simmering — some might say it’s approaching a full boil — since statewide, once-a-month courthouse closures were announced earlier this year. Judges, court workers, labor groups and lawyers are not happy with the judiciary’s decision-makers. And recent revelations about questionable AOC spending have only fanned the flames.
Yolo County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall, who’s been critical of various Judicial Council and AOC actions, said he’s not the “AOC Watcher.” But he likes the blog’s tone.
“Respectful public discussion is always welcome, even when it’s critical,” he said. “Everybody in the judicial branch should be doing what they can to keep the discussion going.”
Whoever is writing “AOC Watcher” has at least a passing knowledge of Latin: “As the saying goes,” he or she writes, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
Or maybe s/he just read “Watchmen.”
— Cheryl Miller
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