UPDATE: Nov. 3rd Hearing Set in CJP Lawsuit to Obstruct Auditor.
As many who are following this high-stakes audit know, the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) sued the California State Auditor in October 2016 in an attempt to thwart the first-ever audit of the state’s only judicial oversight agency. So far, it has worked. The CJP lawsuit stalled the State Auditor and has kept her from doing her job. The Center for Judicial Excellence co-led the statewide effort to get a unanimous vote from the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee to audit the agency back in August 2016, and we have been monitoring this situation all year.
Fast forward one year. Both sides have “lawyered up,” briefs and responses were written and filed, and FINALLY, an August hearing date was set on this matter at the San Francisco Superior Court.
On August 17th, after numerous delays and postponed hearings, lawyers for both the California State Auditor and the Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) presented their arguments in a packed courtroom before SF Superior Court Judge Suzanne R. Bolanos. At issue is the CJP’s assertion that their records are “confidential.” The state’s only oversight agency, which was created to protect the public and rarely investigates their complaints, claims that the California State Auditor should not be allowed to audit their records. The State Auditor routinely audits confidential information from numerous state agencies and has stricter confidentiality protocols than the CJP, so this appears to us to be a stalling tactic by the CJP to keep the Auditor from doing the Legislature’s (i.e. the people’s) business.
On August 24, Judge Bolanos requested supplemental briefing on the meaning of the term “confidential” in Article 6, section 18(i) of the California Constitution. The CJP’s 9/08/17 brief on this issue is attached below, and the State Auditor’s opposing brief is due on 9/22/17. Check back here to review the opposing brief once it becomes available on the SF Court’s website. The CJP is allowed to file an optional reply brief by 9/29/17. The entire matter will then be reconsidered at an additional hearing -set at the request of the State Auditor- for 10am on Friday, Nov. 3rd at the San Francisco Superior Court.
The wheels of justice and accountability have nearly ground to a halt, while this lawsuit gradually unfolds in court. Californians who appear in every type of court in the state remain unprotected from biased, unethical and problematic judges.
2017- 2018 California Legislative Agenda
SB-170 Child custody: preferences of the child.
Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced Senate Bill 170, the Giving Children A Voice Act, which lowers the age that California children can speak directly with a family court judge about custody and visitation with their parents. Current law (FC Section 3042, which our organization sponsored and got passed back in 2010) allows teens 14 and older to weigh in, and this bill states that children 10 and older should be given this same right to address the court if they want to. We encourage our members to please thank Sen. Leyva for her leadership on this bill, and contact your state senator and encourage him or her to co-author SB-170. Find Your California Representative Here and stay tuned for updates on this important legislation. We will be working on this again in 2018, as it is a two-year bill, just like the original bill that gives kids 14 and older the right to speak with the judge was.
Read more about SB-170 and find your California representative here and stay tuned for updates on this important legislation!
Press Release: Senator Leyva Introduces “Giving Children a Voice Act” (January 23, 2017)
2017 U.S. Congressional Agenda
H. CON. RES. 72 ~ Child Safety in Family Courts
After years of collaborative national work to bring this to fruition, and because of the dogged persistence of our close allies Connie Valentine and Joan Meier, we now have a Child Safety Resolution in the United States Congress. Check out the press release about H. Con. Res. 72, our bipartisan Child Safety Resolution from Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). CJE’s child murder data has been a huge driver in generating bipartisan support for this resolution.
Now is the time to act. August 2017.
Please contact your Member of Congress during the August recess, schedule an in-person meeting with their District staff, and urge them to add their name to the growing list of Dem and Rep co-sponsors. Contact the Center for Judicial Excellence for talking points next week.