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Local court officials appeal to state for additional funding

Original post made on Feb 21, 2017

The Contra Costa County Superior Court has joined with 48 other trial courts across California to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to provide additional funding for the state's judicial branch.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 6:35 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Greg T
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 21, 2017 at 7:21 pm

I think Governor Moonbeam AKA Jerry Brown is living in a different planet. He wants to cut all kinds of vital services, buy he'll never think of putting a lid on all the freebies given to those who sneak into the State / Country or the deadbeats who refuse don't like to work.

Posted by Serious
a resident of Danville
on Feb 22, 2017 at 8:28 am

For those not in the legal community, please realize how serious this is. If you have been involved in a lawsuit in the last ten years, you will know how slowly things progress. Without adequate funding, court cases are delayed, particularly anything outside of criminal, which for obvious and important reasons receives preference. Additionally, the lack of raises for judges over the last decade or so (I believe the current salary is about $180,000), and the relatively poor retirement plan compared to other government positions, makes it very difficult for the judiciary to attract top talent, as judges have to make a significant financial sacrifice and commit to public service. While $180,000 is a decent salary in a vacuum, attorneys in private practice, particularly at elite law firms, can easily make mid to high six-figures, frequently seven-figures. These folks, who could be brilliant judges, are effectively priced out. If we want to be able to have the best folks we can on the bench, we have to commit to funding the judiciary.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:20 am

No additional funding is needed for the judiciary. They need to work within their budget, and cut the fat. Yes, some top equity partners at very large firms make more than Judges, but overall they make more than the typical attorney in this county. They also do not have to worry about billable hours,or running a business, and they get a ridiculous amount of court holidays, and do not work weekends, unlike most attorneys. They have a pension, which no law firm offers, and most retire and join JAMS or a similar private ADR outfit and make a lot of money working as a private mediator or arbitrator. Judges do just fine financially and have a much better quality of life than practicing attorneys, not having to worry about billable hours. Additional funding for the judiciary to pay judges more is not necessary.

If there is such a budget problem, why now for the first time ever are some of the courts actually paying out of the court budget private interpreters for civil cases, while in the past it was always the responsibility of the party who claimed a language problem to pay out of their own pocket and obtain a court certified interpreter? I understand in a criminal case the need for the poor to have equal access to an interpreter, but in a civil case if there is such a budget crisis why should the public(thru taxes) have to fund some plaintiff's "personal injury" auto accident case?

Another suggestion instead of simply throwing money at the judiciary would be to follow the English rule, where in a civil case the losing side has to pay the other party's attorney fees and costs. This would lead to less frivolous lawsuits and less court filings, so we would need less civil court clerks and other court employees. These ambulance chasing attorneys run these commercials "No fee if no recovery", which leads to more frivolous lawsuits where litigants think they have nothing to lose if they simply roll the dice and proceed with their ridiculous case. If we reduce the number of lawsuits we can reduce the amount of spending needed for the judiciary.

This is common sense. But unfortunately, in CA, common sense is rare, and simply increasing taxes and throwing money at alleged problems is the rule.

Posted by retired lawyer
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:29 am

I agree with Commom Sense completely. Judges are well compensated compared to private sector and retire at 65% of that salary with only 10 or more years of service. That increases to 75% with 20 years. Many more retirement benefits are there also, given for life. And can all can go to the surviving spouse. In the private sector, you make your own retirement happen.

Posted by Common Sense Lacks Any
a resident of Danville
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:33 am

Common sense - go down to Martinez and let me know what percentage of the lawsuits are your so called frivolous cases. There are a total of four civil judges in martinez (five if you count the judge that straddles probate and civil). There are 21 judges in criminal, seven in family law, four in juvenile, three in traffic, and one and a half in probate.

How does that line up with your false narrative?

Please stop spewing ignorant claims. It has an overall negative effect on the public, and demeans the purpose of public discourse.

The budget crisis for the courts is real, and has been ongoing for years. Denying its existence is silly.

Posted by Jason R
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 26, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Many litigants report extreme inefficiencies at the courts due to poor operations, lack of training, and no oversight. No system of checks and balances exists to ensure that cases are tried fairly. The judges in the county are, indeed, well-paid, enjoy judicial immunity and face few to no repercussions for a job done out of compliance with protocol. It's a nice setup they have going there in the County. They make their own County-specific rules, don't articulate these updates, and consequently undermine the litigants trying to use the system, creating further inefficiencies. This County in general operates under a veil of secrecy. Court users have a great deal of trouble in ascertaining the most basic information, and calling the untrainted lackeys at the court house usually gets a pat response of "Did you look on the website?" Or "Yes, we have something for that type of motion but I just don't know what."

Until the bar is raised, justice, and the legal system, will continue to deteriorate. I've yet to see current leadership of this Court system be held accountable for the degeneration that can't solely be attributed to "lack of funding."

Posted by Allison
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm

""We note than on July 1, 2017, executive branch employees will receive a wage increase," court officials said.

Take a look at this salary schedule for the court employees. The range of 'Executive' level pay is roughly around $130K-$190K for salary alone, not including benefits. Why do these people, in addition to the job security they possess, need their salaries plumped?

Web Link

Posted by Jane Q
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm

The state's courts always scream they are broke, yet they are mismanaging funds, not disciplining judges, allowing lawyers to steal millions, if not billions from family court victims , and they currently are using the state's attorney general , Xavier Becerra to fight law suits brought by the people , including seniors and the poor, who have been screwed by bad judges that never even get a letter from the Commission on Judicial Performance. As they scream poor, they pad their expense accounts and private security from local police, then cut clerk hours and build outrageous courthouses , like the new Family Law Injustice Center in San Jose, and on March 24, 2017 they gave $29,000,000 in "grants" that will do little to improve access to the courts, as they fought yet another lawsuit against Judge Moss and the CJP for the criminal activity that stole money from seniors. They are fighting school teacher Michael Smith, who just wants to be removed from the vexatious litigant list and given equal custody time with his teen daughter . For that the legal budget will spend millions to respond and fight a federal lawsuit, claiming the poor homeless teacher is clogging the courts, so they need more money . Start with removing retirement and pensions from judges who violate the law, act with bias and throw kickbacks to their buddies , and they judiciary won't need to ask Brown for anything. Oh and yea, they need more money to legally fight the state audit the legislature ordered, but now need more money from the state. No audit in sight .

Posted by Al
a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

My granddaughter was given to an alcohol/drug addict Father who has a long history of abusing women, including several wives, and his abuse has resulted in police reports and broken bones. Yet, Contra Costa County court insists that the granddaughter would "thrive" in the custody of a man she is terrified of, and who she says threatens her and isolates her.

If this is the type of activity that the County courts begs the State to "fund" then count me out of its supporters.

I recall a day and age where parents were assessed based on psychological health and ability to care for the child. Now, it's all about to some half-witted Court employee who is trying to rake in other funding sources by assigning full custody to a well-known and well-documented abuser.

No wonder this State is circling the drain. This County exemplifies tax payer waste, no oversight, and poor decision-making.

Posted by LJ
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:26 pm

I am so sad for Al and his granddaughter. But I am also outraged that this is a pattern in the ContraCosta Family Court. Our family has also had a similar experience. And there are countless others that I have become aware of. It is heartbreaking and defies the imagination that an agency that exists to act in the "Best Interest of The Child" has instead become a "Cash for Kids" operation.

There seems to be no oversight or accountability. From the judges on down to the mediators and related court agents. This dincludes Child and Family Services.
Do not bother to file a complaint. It will be shuffled round and ignored. Meanwhile there are families' wellbeing at stake and families end up suffering instead of being helped.

It is obvious to me that these corrupt county employees do not deserve another dime of my hard earned tax money. But moreover, they should all be removed for harming children and families and breech of public trust.

Posted by Ticked off Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2017 at 6:50 am

Contra Costa courts are running a kids for cash Title Program Funding scheme through it's courts and through it's use of force enrolling children into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. It's CEO of The Courts, Steven Nash, was even "Judicially Appointed" to be the Legislative Director of SB 56. He then promptly rewrote the legislative legal language of SB 56... SB 56 just happens to be the law governing billing between inter county agencies for "services"... Every time there is a budget meeting of any type, there is Contra Costa County Court Officials, hat in hand, begging for more funding, claiming to be broke... yeah right. Quit trafficking our kids in that county, quit bilking cases for years and fire and Jury Trial every county official connected to the courts there from the Presiding Judge to County Counsel to the Directors of the Dept of Social Services, The Director of the Civil Rights Division, as well as the Mt Diablo Unified School District Superintendent and then let's talk...Contra Costa until you clean house you are a mess and a cesspool of corruption with fully rigged cases for pure profit purposes.

Posted by Jill Q
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2017 at 7:44 am

Until the Judicial Council ends the use of the Assigned Judges Program to subvert our constitution re; elected judges, the Commission on Judicial Reform begins public and zealous enforcement of the Judicial Canons, the Governor appoints judges to fill places filled by the Assigned retired judges, and until the rule of law dominates Family Courts, not a cent more for the courts. Lavish new buildings, RICO enterprises, ex parte deals, kids for cash, and pay to play-and an alarming trend to declare poor unrepresented parties Vexatious to silence those who object; these must be addressed. Poor judges retiring way early to double dip in the AJP with zero accountability, presiding judges who turn a blind eye to judicial corruption. We the people say, 'no more money until significant reform'.

Posted by Rache Z
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2017 at 12:05 pm

"Contra Costa courts are running a kids for cash" We need more tinfoil before we can verify that. This sounds like more of that nonsense from those "Court Watchers" that go around complaining when their lies caught up with them in court and they did not get what they wanted.

The people on the vexatious litigant list are there for a reason. These people are big part of the problem. They cost the courts and others an insane amount of money with their repeated filings. Sadly very few people get placed on the list. It takes a lot to get on the list of Elite vex'ers.

Posted by Fed up local
a resident of Danville
on Mar 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Rache Z - You could educate yourself on Title IV funding and attorney fee churning. Attorneys are being investigated and even disbarred for fee churning in Contra Costa County. Haven't you read the news, or picked up a copy of California Lawyer magazine, or are you living under a rock? Every judge who is aware of attorney misconduct has an ethical duty to report this attorney misconduct and do not.

Posted by Rache Z
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Fed Up Local, please site legit news source for this claim:

"Contra Costa courts are running a kids for cash Title Program Funding scheme through it's courts and through it's use of force enrolling children into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District"

I am not referring to "news sources" that are run by vexatious litigants or other individuals who blog about "unfair" and "corrupt" judges simply because their bs was transparent to the people who have a robe on.

Posted by Fed Up Local
a resident of Danville
on Mar 28, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Why would I provide a news source for something that I didn't state? Go talk to the commenter for clarification, instead of painting every single reader's opinions with one individual's statements. Think critically about what you read, as you seem to purport that others do not.

Further, there are plenty of legitimate news sources (I even cited one, California Lawyer Magazine, if you look above) that report on the subject of fee churning and professional misconduct. The State Bar is tightening many of its protocols as well, and it's not due to a mere subsect of VLs, contrary to your assertion.

Are you an attorney? MCLE training never hurts. Who knows? You might even learn something.

Posted by Rache Z
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm

It is rather hard to learn something when a person makes a claim and I ask for a legit source of a claim and none is provided. A person might think if there was a Kids for Cash scheme going on in Contra Costa County that it would just take a simple google search to find legit news sources on such vile behaviors.

Posted by Judges not getting raises? Really?
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 3, 2017 at 10:25 pm

"The clerks and janitors at the Contra Costa County courts have not had an actual raise in over seven years. During that time, the Bay Area Cost of Living Index has gone up nearly 18%.

Also during that time, the judges have received a raise every year. The Court Executive Officer has received raises. All other State and Contra Costa County employees received a raise last year.

“Our Court Executive Officer, Stephen Nash, is paid $52,000 more than Governor Jerry Brown while some of our employees are having difficult times paying for food and rent,” said Nancy Chertkow, president of the Local 2700 courts unit. “If our employees were absent, the courts would grind to a halt. Criminals would go free because the courts could not try them. Our communities would not have the benefit of the services our courts provide.”

An AFSCME analysis has shown that Contra Costa County Superior Court administrators are not running the Superior Court as efficiently as the other Bay Area county superior courts, and they spend the least on their employees out of all the nine Bay Area courts.

What’s more, the court administrators continually spend their budget on information technology equipment that doesn’t work or never gets used but claims there is not enough to pay the employees who are charged with operating that equipment."

Web Link

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