In the quest to answer Governor Jerry Brown's call to make trial court funding more equitable, a group of judges and court executives may have come up with a solution.The Funding Methodology Subcommittee, a Judicial Council bunch led by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl, has unveiled a model that purports to link individual court allocations with their workloads, not their historical -- and historically unequal -- funding levels.
The formula is complex and a little wonky, and it still has some holes. It would be phased in through 2018. Bottom line, some-better off courts would lose money under the plan while others that have gone begging would gain. But Earl and her subcommittee colleagues aren't making public yet the full list of winners and losers.
"It's a very, very rough draft, and there's more tweaking to be done," she said Tuesday after briefing the Trial Court Funding Working Group. (That's the panel appointed by the governor and chief justice to analyze the success of 16 years of state funding for courts).
She did say her own court would lose funding under the plan. So would Santa Clara County Superior Court. Courts in Riverside, San Bernardino, Kings, Riverside and Los Angeles would also benefit, at least under the formula's first draft.
In addition to tweaking its model, Earl's group has a formidable sales job ahead of it. Will judges from courts that would lose money still back the plan? Will organized labor?
The group's best hope may be convincing the governor that the funding formula is fair, or at least more fair than the current method. A satisfied governor may be more inclined to retore branch funding, and that should mean more money for everyone. That may be why the proposal seems to have some momentum behind it.
Earl's subcommittee is presenting its model to judges and court executives in private meetings around the state. The Sacramento judge said she expects to make the proposal final before it goes to the Judicial Council in late April.