NUMBER: AB 1208 INTRODUCED
INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Charles Calderon
FEBRUARY 18, 2011
An act to add Section 77001.1 to the Government Code, relating to
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AB 1208, as introduced, Charles Calderon. Trial courts:
The California Constitution provides that the judicial power of
this state is vested in the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and
superior courts, all of which are courts of record. The Constitution
provides for a superior court of one or more judges in each county.
The Constitution establishes the Judicial Council, and requires the
council, to improve the administration of justice, to survey judicial
business and make recommendations to the courts, make
recommendations annually to the Governor and the Legislature, adopt
rules for court administration, practice, and procedure, and perform
other functions prescribed by statute. The Constitution requires
judges to report to the council as the Chief Justice directs
concerning the condition of judicial business in their courts, and to
cooperate with the council and hold court as assigned.
This bill would enact the Trial Court Rights Act of 2011. The bill
would provide that each trial court of this state is an independent
constitutional and statutory court, with the independent right and
duty to manage its administrative and financial affairs in accordance
with its own policies, as provided by its trial court management, if
the court is in reasonable compliance with accounting, audit, and
budgetary standards established by law. The bill would provide that
each trial court shall be independently empowered with enumerated
The bill would provide that, except as otherwise provided by
all funds allocated for trial court operations, once appropriated,
shall be fully allocated among the trial courts, and that no
deductions shall take place without the consent of the affected
courts. The bill would authorize each trial court to move funds, once
budgeted and allocated, between functions or line items or programs
as directed by that court's trial court management. The bill would
require the trial court management's written consent to impose,
implement, or share any case or accounting information system, or to
contribute any portion of the trial court's budget to a statewide
information system, or to undertake the construction of a court
facility in that county. The bill would require the Judicial Council
to consider, and revise or adopt, rules and policies consistent with
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Trial
Court Rights Act of 2011.
SEC. 2. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) While the Legislature has previously affirmed, recognized, and
established that the funding of trial court operations is a function
of the state for greater efficiency and accountability in the
allocation of state resources for the local trial courts, the
Legislature has also previously affirmed the need for strong and
independent local county court management.
(b) The common law structure of our judiciary is constitutionally
and statutorily implemented in California through the county trial
court system, as courts of general jurisdiction.
(1) The California Constitution states: "In each county there
superior court of one or more judges" (Section 4 of Article VI of
the California Constitution; see Section 914.1 of the Penal Code
(referring to "the superior court of the county"); Dineen v. City and
County of San Francisco (1940) 38 Cal.App.2d 486, 490 ("While the
superior court is, in one sense, a state court, it is also a county
(2) The correct view, therefore, is that the California
Constitution mandates that there are 58 superior courts in
California, one in each of the 58 counties.
(3) Each judge of every superior court conducts a
"session" as a
"court of record," and the judgments, orders, and proceedings of each
judge are as effective as if conducted by all of the judges of the
court (see Section 69741.5 of the Government Code).
(c) The importance of having decentralized management of the trial
courts was recognized by the Legislature in adopting the
Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 (Chapter 850 of the
Statutes of 1997). The Legislature stated in subdivision (l) of
Section 3 of that act that the Judicial Council shall adopt a Trial
Courts Bill of Financial Management Rights, to be approved no later
than January 1, 1998, and provided the standards to be followed by
the Judicial Council in Section 77001 of the Government Code.
(d) In fact, the Judicial Council never adopted the Trial Courts
Bill of Financial Management Rights.
(e) Accordingly, the Legislature hereby enacts a Trial Court Bill
of Rights to ensure the management principles recognized by the
Legislature in adopting the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act
SEC. 3. Section 77001.1 is added to the Government Code, to read:
77001.1. Each trial court of this state is recognized as an
independent constitutional and statutory court according to, and
subject to, the following provisions:
(a) Each trial court shall be considered, and is hereby
established and denominated, an independent county trial court within
the historic geographic boundaries of the counties of this state, in
accordance with the traditional rules of jurisdiction and venue. The
Judicial Council does not govern the trial courts. The Judicial
Council's authority and functions are expressly provided for, and
limited by, the California Constitution and statute.
(b) Each judge of each trial court is an independent
constitutional officer of the state, empowered to conduct the
sessions of the trial court assigned to that judge with independent
authority, subject to state and federal law.
(c) Each trial court shall have the independent right and duty to
manage its administrative and financial affairs in accordance with
its own policies, as provided by its trial court management, if the
court is in reasonable compliance with the accounting, audit, and
budgetary standards established by law.
(d) Each trial court of this state shall be independently
empowered with all of the following powers, including, but not
(1) To elect and maintain its own presiding judge, and assistant
presiding judge, according to the majority vote of the active judges
of that trial court, in accordance with its own policies established
by majority vote of its active judges from time to time.
(2) To hire, maintain, compensate, and supervise its own executive
officer, subordinate officers, court administrators, clerks of the
court, jury commissioner, chief probation officer, and employees, and
to employ, compensate, negotiate with, and supervise those employees
in its own discretion, in accordance with law, and to maintain its
own personnel plans and policies consistent with law.
(3) To enter into its own contracts and agreements to provide for
the security of its court sessions, including negotiating and
maintaining contracts with local law enforcement agencies.
(4) To retain and employ its own administrative legal counsel to
assist with the administration of court affairs, and to represent the
court with respect to its rights, duties, and obligations.
(5) To assign its judges to any session and to any facility within
its geographic boundaries within the sole discretion of its
presiding judge and in accordance with policies as may be established
by its trial court management.
(6) Except as otherwise required by law, to maintain the schedule
of its own sessions at times and places as deemed prudent by its
presiding judge and trial court management, and to open or close the
court facilities within its geographic boundaries as deemed prudent
by its presiding judge and trial court management.
(e) Except as necessary to otherwise carry out the constitutional
or other established statutory authority of the Judicial Council, a
trial court shall not be required to coordinate or combine its
operations with any other trial court, except as the trial court
management of that trial court consents, including the assignment of
its judges to any other court.
(f) Except as otherwise provided by law, all funds allocated for
trial court operations, once appropriated, shall be fully allocated
among the trial courts, and no deductions shall take place without
the consent of the affected courts. Funds, once allocated to a trial
court, shall be the funds of that court, subject to reserve by that
court, and shall not be reallocated without the consent of that court'
s trial court management.
(g) Each trial court may move funds, once budgeted and allocated,
between functions or line items or programs as directed by that court'
s trial court management. Notwithstanding Section 68085, an
allocation of funds from the Trial Court Trust Fund shall not be made
without the consent of the trial court management of the affected
court or courts.
(h) A trial court shall not be required to impose, implement, or
share any case or accounting information system, or to contribute any
portion of its budget to a statewide case or accounting information
system, except with the written consent of its trial court
management. Each trial court shall have full operational control of
its financial information, case files, and all file and calendar
information, electronic or otherwise. The Judicial Council shall
ensure that any data management controls, such as software
compilation codes, are provided to each trial court for that purpose.
(i) The design or construction of a court facility shall not be
undertaken in a county without the prior and final written consent
and approval of that court's trial court management. The location of
a court facility construction project shall be approved by that court'
s trial court management. A pending construction project that is not
yet under construction at the time this section is enacted shall be
submitted for approval of the trial court management of the affected
court as soon as possible. All court facilities within each county
shall prominently display the name of the county in substantially the
following manner: "Superior Court of the State of California in and
for the County of name of county]." A court facility shall not be
named except by, or with the written consent of, that court's trial
(j) No rule or policy established or adopted by the Judicial
Council shall conflict with this section. The Judicial Council shall
consider, and revise or adopt, rules and policies consistent with
this section. In the event of a conflict between any rule or policy
of the Judicial Council and this section, this section shall prevail.
(k) For purposes of this section, "trial court
the presiding judge and any executive committee of the judges of the