The Judicial Council should develop rules of court that create a separate advisory body, or amend the current advisory committee's responsibilities and composition, that reports directly to the Judicial Council to review the AOC's state operations and local assistance expenditures in detail to ensure they are justified and prudent. This advisory body should be composed of subject matter experts with experience in public and judicial branch finance.
The Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) has created a Judicial Branch Budget Committee, comprised of judges from different superior courts and justices from the courts of appeal, to assist the Judicial Council in exercising its duties under rule 10.101 of the Rules of Court pertaining to the judicial branch's budget, including planned spending by the Judicial Council. The committee's scope of work includes reviewing budget change proposals and making recommendations on the use of statewide emergency funding for the judicial branch. The recommendations from this committee, and the Judicial Council's actions on those recommendations, are made in open session where the public may comment on proposed budget allocations and spending. This committee has already met twice and its meeting materials (including agendas and audio recordings of the meetings) are posted at www.courts.ca.gov/jbbc.htm.
The AOC's response does not address whether the new committee is composed of subject matter experts with experience in public and judicial branch finance, who directly report to the Judicial Council. Further, in its previous response, the AOC indicated considering various approaches to implement this recommendation, including contracting for an annual financial audit of its operations. However, the AOC did not provide information on the status of the approaches it was considering.
Various approaches are being explored for consideration. This may include contracting with a firm/agency to conduct an annual financial audit of Judicial Council state operations and local assistance expenditures.
Judicial Council staff is working with Judicial Council advisory bodies to determine the most prudent course of action to undertake for the council to review its expenditures and ensure full compliance with policies and procedures.
Rules of Court are being reviewed to ascertain if changes are needed to assign oversight responsibility for Trial Court Trust Fund and Trial Court Improvement and Modernization Fund expenditures to the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee and for the council's Executive and Planning Committee to assume oversight for all other Judicial Council expenditures. If rule amendments are required, changes will be made consistent with the council's rulemaking process and timeframes.
The AOC notes that it will determine whether the rules of court require a change. We expect that the AOC will implement this recommendation regardless of whether changes to the rules of court are required.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.