SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - California trial judges on a statewide budget committee fiercely oppose a move to strip their oversight power for trial court spending and give that power instead to another committee that regularly meets in secret.
This week, judges and court clerks on the Judicial Council's Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee took a strong stance against a proposed rule change that would give a different council committee the authority to go back and review how the council and its staff spent judiciary funds on behalf of the courts.
"I think this is a complete diminution of the authority of this committee," said budget committee member Judge Dodie Harman of San Luis Obispo. "This branch has a history of problems with credibility and transparency. I think we've worked on that, but this goes backwards. It reduces transparency."
Under the amended Rule 10.63, the council's Advisory Committee on Financial Accountability and Efficiency would audit the Judicial Council and its bureaucratic staff's past spending on anything related to the courts, from the judiciary's overall budget to sources like the Trial Court Trust Fund and Improvement and Modernization Fund, which finances court technology projects.
At a meeting on Tuesday, budget committee members said the rule change made no sense. They reasoned that if any committee should be looking at how the council spends money for the courts, it should be them.
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