State Court Costs Overlooked Due To Loophole

Assembly Members Ask For Firing Of Court Administrator

According to information obtained by the 10News I-Team, a loophole is allowing California's court leaders to overlook court maintenance costs under $500.

The court's exclusive contractor doesn't have to explain costs under $500, according to the clause. The I-Team learned 84.8 percent of all San Diego's court maintenance costs didn't have to be explained in 2010.

The following chart categorizes the costs into $50 increments:

COSTS NUMBER PERCENT
$0 to $50601.7
$50 to $10036110.5
$100 to $1502015.8
$150 to $20036410.6
$200 to $2503018.7
$250 to $3001985.7
$300 to $3502908.4
$350 to $4001694.9
$400 to $4503078.9
$450 to $50067419.5
More than $50052415.2

"This leads to the cynicism and the frustration time and time again we've seen with this one agency," San Diego Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said.

Fletcher has been watching the Administrative Office of the Courts -- the group running state courts -- since last fall when his Oversight and Accountability Committee questioned leaders about their spending.

"This agency in particular is going to get some extra attention from the Oversight and Accountability Committee this year," Fletcher said.

The Administrative Office of the Courts CEO William Vickrey is being questioned, and members of the State Assembly have asked the state's chief justice to fire Vickrey for mismanaging the courts.

In a letter, the members specifically questioned the way Vickrey managed the court's $1 billion computer project.

"I consider this letter a serious attempt to interfere with judicial branch governance and my ability to evaluate the Administrative Office of the Court's management team," Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said. "Mr. Vickrey is and has been an invaluable resource to the judicial branch and I continue to work closely with him and others to meet the courts' challenges."

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