New Director for Troubled Court Agency

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A former chief assistant inspector general for California, Martin Hoshino, has been hired to lead the San Francisco-based administrative agency for California's courts. Hoshino will lead the roughly 800-member agency as it undergoes an investigation by the Bureau of State Audits scheduled for release in January.
     Hoshino, 50, was chosen by the Judicial Council through a unanimous vote Tuesday. He assumes leadership of the council's staff, formerly known as the Administrative Office of the Courts, during a severe funding crisis that has resulted in closed courthouses and mass layoffs of court employees.
     The AOC has also come under fire from state lawmakers in recent years for mismanagement and wasteful spending and is currently under investigation by the Bureau of State Audits.
     The bureaucracy recently dropped the name AOC, and several days later, Director Steven Jahr announced his retirement at the end of September. Jahr said he had been planning to retire since last year.
     Hoshino brings to the job decades of experience in the state's executive branch. Before becoming Undersecretary for Operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2012, Hoshino worked at the State Controller's Office and the Office of the Inspector General, where he served directly under former Inspector General Steve White, now a judge in Sacramento Superior Court. "He was my Chief Deputy," White said.
     White is president of the reform group the Alliance of California Judges, which formed in 2009 in response to the state budget crisis, taking on issues like AOC employee pensions and pay raises while courts were cutting staff, and a $1.9 billion failed IT project pushed by the AOC.
     In a statement, White praised Hoshino's selection as a possible harbinger of change.
     "Based on what we know of him from his work at CDCR, the State Controller's Office and the Office of the Inspector General, it is likely he would not have taken this position, even on an interim basis, unless he were given full authority to hire and fire agency staffers," White said. "We expect he will bring to the job a commitment to rein in the excessive spending and the overreach of the agency formerly known as the AOC, and that he has the background and the skills to shake up the administration of our branch. We wish him every success."
     In a statement, Governor Jerry Brown said, "He did an outstanding job of helping the state manage its prison system during a very difficult period. He'll be a great help to the California judiciary. We'll all miss him."
     In recent years, Hoshino sat on the Trial Court Funding Work Group, a committee of judges and state administrators appointed by Governor Brown and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to evaluate the balance between central state control and local control of California's courts in the wake of landmark legislation that established a system of statewide funding for the trial courts, which had previously been run by local counties.
     Hoshino referred to that experience in a statement Tuesday.
     "When I served on the Trial Court Funding Work Group, I was impressed with the Chief Justice's commitment to a strong court system that efficiently provides essential government services, as it parallels the Governor's approach with Corrections," he said. "My own career encompasses a broad mix of statewide policymaking, oversight of budget and operations, and collaboration with the justice system and Legislature. I'm looking forward to applying my experience and administrative skills to serve the needs of the Judicial Council and the judicial branch."