Council OKs Options to Help Courts Manage Their Budgets

for release

Contact: <a href="">Teresa Ruano</a>, 415-865-7740

June 27, 2014

Council OKs Options to Help Courts Manage Their Budgets Despite Limited Reserve Funds

New policies allow courts to encumber certain funds so they won’t count against the 1 percent reserve limit set by statute

Council meeting
Zlatko Theodorovic, right, co-chairs the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee

SAN FRANCISCO—At its public meeting on June 27, the Judicial Council approved recommendations from its Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee on new policies related to encumbrances of trial court funds.

The new policies provide guidance to trial courts in complying with Government Code section 77203, which allows courts to carry over “unexpended funds in an amount not to exceed 1 percent of the court’s operating budget from the prior fiscal year.” A legal analysis done by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) concluded that encumbered funds are not considered “unexpended” for state agencies. The encumbrance policies are consistent with the policies and practices of the executive branch.

According to Zlatko Theodorovic, advisory committee co-chair and Judicial Council’s chief financial officer, the Department of Finance was consulted during development of these proposed policies and has indicated no concerns with the policies approved by the council.

Revisions to Cash Advance Process for Trial Courts
At its business meeting, the council also approved recommendations from the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee to revise the form and process for cash advance requests from the courts. As another tool that courts can use to help them manage their budgets, the supplemental funding process enables courts to request urgent-needs funding if they project a short-term, unavoidable budget shortfall, unforeseen emergency, or unanticipated expense for an existing program.

Other actions and discussions that took place at the council meeting:

Trial Court Allocations for FY 2014–2015: The council approved recommendations from the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee on fiscal year 2014–2015 allocations from the Trial Court Trust Fund for various trial court-related projects and programs, as well as reimbursement of various trial court costs, including court-appointed dependency counsel and criminal justice realignment costs. The recommendations also address a process for reducing 2014–2015 State Trial Court Improvement and Modernization Fund allocations approved by the council. The committee intends to bring additional recommendations for the council’s consideration at its July 29 meeting and may also bring back changes to what was recommended in this report or other allocations already approved by the council.

Administrative Office of the Courts Naming: The Chief Justice announced a plan to unify the Judicial Council and its staff under the name Judicial Council of California.  News release.

Court Facilities: Modernization of the Hollywood Courthouse: The council approved recommendations to adopt performance criteria and a competitive prequalification and selection process for the design-build project to modernize the Hollywood Courthouse. The scope of this project was changed from new construction to modernization of an existing facility to move this SB 1407 project forward, saving approximately $50 million.

Report on Services Provided by Staff to the Judicial Council: The council received an informational report on services provided by its staff. The report comprehensively catalogues programs, projects, and activities provided by the staff to the Judicial Council in service to the judicial branch, sister branches of state government, the federal government, local and national justice partners, community organizations, and the public.

2014 Recipients of Judicial Council Distinguished Service Awards: The council approved recommendations from the chairs of its five internal committees on the recipients of this year’s Judicial Council of California Distinguished Service Awards. These annual awards, the highest honors bestowed by the judicial branch, recognize individuals who exemplify the leadership strengths that create significant and positive contributions to court administration in California.

Ronald M. George Award for Judicial Excellence:  Hon. Tricia A. Bigelow, Presiding Justice, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight
Honors members of the judiciary for their extraordinary dedication to the highest principles of the administration of justice statewide.

William C. Vickrey Leadership in Judicial Administration Award:  Mr. Curt Soderlund, Chief Administrative Officer
Honors individuals in judicial administration for significant statewide contributions to and leadership in their profession.

Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae Award: Mr. Ralph J. Shapiro, Attorney at Law, Shapiro Family Trust Foundation
Honors individuals other than members of the judiciary for their outstanding contributions to the courts of California.

Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award: Bench-Bar Coalition, Open Courts Coalition, and State Bar of California
Honors individuals from federal, state, and local government for significant contributions to advancing equal access to fair and consistent justice in California.

Richard D. Huffman Justice for Children & Families Award: Hon. Michael Nash, Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Honors individuals for significant contributions to advancing justice for children and families in California.

Excellence in Judicial Education Award: Hon Carol A. Corrigan, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court, and Hon. Mark B. Simons, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Five
Honors individuals or faculty teams for their exceptional contributions to teaching and judicial education in California.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony scheduled for Thursday, August 21, in conjunction with that day’s Judicial Council meeting.

An archived audiocast of the entire meeting broken out by topic will be available on the June 26-27 council meeting webpage early next week.