The Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the California Court system. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) implements the Council’s policies. LAAC closely follows activities of the Judicial Council and AOC for any activities or issues that may affect its members. LAAC also closely monitors activities of the State Bar of California for any developments that may affect the legal services community. Information regarding relevant Judicial Council and AOC developments is below.
If you have any questions regarding LAAC’s Judicial Council advocacy, please contact Lorin Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following a complaint filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles in 2010 alleging civil rights violations by California courts for denial of interpreter services, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into language access. Upon finding that numerous policies and practices in place in California courts denied court access to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals, the Department of Justice urged the California Judicial Council and the AOC to change its policies and ensure meaningful access to LEP individuals.
In response, the Judicial Council created a Joint Working Group tasked with developing a statewide Language Access Plan, which started working in mid-2013. The Joint Working Group prepared a draft Language Access Plan, including holding three public hearings which took place on February 24th, March 4th, and March 13th prior to release of the draft plan. LAAC, along with several other legal services organizations closely monitored the development of the Language Access Plan. Together the legal services stakeholders have attended public hearings, met by phone and in person an numerous occasions, and have engaged in one-on-one meetings with members of the Joint Working Group. The legal services group convened several meetings and developed detailed and through recommendations which it submitted to the Joint Working Group prior to their release of the draft plan.
In August, the Joint Working Group completed their draft plan and released it for public comment. The “Strategic Plan for Language Access in the California Courts,” was open for comment through Monday September 29,2014. You can read the draft plan here. [Editor’s note: No link was provided on the old site.]
During the public comment period, LAAC coordinated several meetings and conversations about the draft plan, including two in-person meetings regarding language access for indigenous language speakers and an in-person meeting with a member of the Joint Working Group. The legal services community submitted a thorough comment to the plan. LAAC also submitted a comment [Editor’s note: No link on old site], which largely highlighted and summarized the comments prepared by the larger community.
More information on language access is available here.
LAAC will continue to monitor the progress of the Language Access Plan development and will ensure its members are informed and involved. LAAC continues to advocate for the involvement of legal services providers in the implementation of the final Language Access Plan.
Technology Governance, Strategy, and Funding Proposal
The Judicial Council Technology Planning Task Force developed a proposed recommendation for judicial branch technology governance, strategy, and funding that is it opened for public comment. The deadline for comments was June 16, 2014, and LAAC filed public comment.
The proposal laid out a plan for future technology initiatives and promoting technology with limited court funding. It provided a detailed plan for overhauling and managing technology within the judicial system including achieving four primary technology goals. These four goals are proposed for implementation 2014-2018, are in support of the overall goal of providing access to justice, and are as follows:
- Promote the Digital Court
- Optimize Branch Resources
- Optimize Infrastructure
- Promote Rule and Legislative Changes
The impetus for creation of this plan was the decision by the Judicial Council in March 2012 to terminate the California Case Management System as the statewide system and to instead adopt a strategic plan to support judicial branch technology needs long-term, particular attention being paid to recent dramatic reductions in court funding. You can read the full proposal here.
In LAAC’s comments it thanked the Judicial Council for the inclusion of principles in the plan such as ensuring access and fairness, considering self-represented litigants, and preserving traditional access and requested that the Council keep low-income and rural litigants in mind, as well as including legal aid representation on the plan-created technology advisory committee.
Read LAAC’s comments here.
At the Judicial Council meeting on August 22, 2014, the Council adopted the Plan, including incorporation of some ideas promoted in LAAC’s comments. For example, the adopted plan added language to emphasize that technology should not be implemented in a manner that creates barriers to access, especially to indigent individuals and people with disabilities. It also added that the Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access & Fairness (ACPAF) would be able to give input on technology decisions. During the meeting, the task force also added that they would be revising the plan to comport with the Judicial Council’s developing plans for language access. LAAC was disappointed that the response did not outright agree that legal aid organizations should be represented on the advisory committee. LAAC will continue to build relationships with the Judicial Council’s ACPAF staff to monitor this important issue. You can read the adopted plan here.
Highlights of Past Judicial Council Opportunities to Comment
Mandatory E-filing. The Judicial Council voted on June 28, 2013 to adopt the recommendations of the Working Group on Mandatory E-filing. The final proposal follows many of LAAC’s recommendations and the recommendations of our community. For more information, see our quick summary with links to the full proposal and attachments.