California’s recent spate of unseasonably warm weather has done nothing to thaw the icy relationship between Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board published Wednesday, the chief justice accused the Montebello Democrat of using his Trial Court Rights Act as “a hammer over my head for the last year.”
Cantil-Sakauye said Calderon blind-sided her by introducing AB 1208, the Alliance of California Judges-backed bill that would shift funding control from the Judicial Council to the trial courts.
“But I get 47 days into office and all of a sudden, we need to change and turn around on a dime,” Cantil-Sakauye told the ed board. "Any discussion with me? None. Any warning? None. Any ‘Let's work this out?’ None.”
Calderon, as you might expect, has a different recollection of events. He said he had been approached by the Alliance in 2010 -– before Cantil-Sakauye was chief justice -- to carry the Trial Court Rights Act but, not knowing the group’s members, he declined. When the state auditor published her critical review of the Court Case Management System in February 2011, he changed his mind.
The assemblyman said he talked with the chief justice early last year at a meeting arranged by Allan Zaremberg, the president of the California Chamber of Commerce and a colleague of Cantil-Sakauye in the Deukmejian administration.
“I said to her she should make a very public statement and distance herself from the [Administrative Office of the Courts] and the CCMS project and show that she’s in charge,” Calderon said. “I said, ‘I’ll work with you to try to bring the courts back together.’”
But Cantil-Sakauye was only interested in him dropping AB 1208, Calderon said. He declined.
“She’s been in office for a year now and nothing’s changed,” he said.
The pointed comments reflect the tension that’s built as the Jan. 31 deadline to pass AB 1208 off the Assembly floor approaches. Calderon said he’s got the votes.
“There’s heavy labor support for it, and that’s going to make a difference,” he said.
Calderon added that he still plans to launch a subcommittee that will review judicial branch spending, although he declined to discuss its scope or to give a timeline for its first meeting. “Just say it’s alive,” he said.
In the meantime, Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg, chair of the Judicial Council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, said in a Wednesday newsletter to fellow jurists that he has obtained the signatures of 43 presiding judges opposed to AB 1208.
“As I see it, AB 1208 is a chimera, no more and no less,” Rosenberg wrote.