On August 16th, Alliance director Judge David Lampe requested Executive and Planning Committee chairman Justice Douglas Miller to make public the audit report of the AOC Office of Court Construction and Management prepared by Pegasus Global Holdings. A copy of that letter appears below.
Justice Miller declined to make that report public, indicating that it would be released in September, so we were surprised to learn yesterday that the summary of that report was somehow “leaked” to Daily Journal reporter Paul Jones. We include today’s Daily Journal story on that “leaked” document.
We were not surprised, of course, by the summarized findings of the audit because we fully expected to see the same dysfunction, incompetence and lack of oversight in the multi-billion dollar court construction and maintenance program that we saw on display in the failed CCMS project.
As to who leaked this document, we will not speculate. As to why the document was leaked, we offer the following possible explanation: it is common to attempt to blunt negative press attention by leaking portions of an embarrassing report to a single reporter. Once that story runs the agency which is the subject of the report can claim that it’s now “old news” and that the recommendations in the report have been complied with. This tactic is often referred to as an “inoculation.” Whether or not this occurred in this instance, the Alliance will not be dissuaded from publicly disseminating the entire report once the Council sees fit to release it. Nor do we expect that the rather strange “leak” to a single reporter will dissuade other reporters in both the print and television media from reporting on yet another instance of Judicial Council and AOC mismanagement.
The common themes of this latest report, the State Auditor’s report on CCMS, the SEC report on the AOC, and the concerns raised by hundreds of judges during the most recent public comment period all underscore the desperate need for the democratization of the Judicial Council. The 15 year experiment of centralized governance by unelected bureaucrats and the abdication of oversight by handpicked functionaries has significantly damaged the image of the judiciary. The lack of Council oversight of the AOC has become habitual and blatant, as yet another report has found. At some point we need to say enough is enough. Let’s hope that doesn’t occur after additional millions or billions of public funds are wasted.