By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
For years, hundreds of Superior Court judges have waged a political rebellion against what they considered to be an oppressive and bloated state judicial bureaucracy based in San Francisco.
The rebels, gathered under the banner of the Alliance of California Judges, alleged that the Administrative Office of the Courts, or AOC, an arm of the State Judicial Council, was wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on itself, on an unworkable computer system, and on a grandiose courthouse construction program while starving local courts.
The rebellion, stemming from a state takeover of local court financing in the 1990s, erupted during former Chief Justice Ron George’s reign, and Tani Cantil-Sakauye inherited it when she succeeded George in 2010.
Cantil-Sakauye tried to steer a center course, pledging to enact reforms while opposing legislation that would reduce the AOC’s authority over local court budgets. She denounced the measure, backed by rebel judges and unions representing court employees, as an intrusion on judicial independence.
In the last few months, however, the rebels scored a series of stunning victories. The Judicial Council abandoned the controversial computer system, a “strategic evaluation committee” appointed by Cantil-Sakauye issued a massive report that agreed with much of what the Alliance of California Judges had been alleging about the AOC’s high-handedness, and a budget “trailer” bill enacted in June included restrictions on the AOC’s financial power that the rebels had sought.
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