Sacramento’s Top Judge Holds Course in Opposing Dictate from Statewide Body

     (CN) – Sacramento’s head judge slammed California’s judicial leadership over the way its costly statewide case management system has been implemented, blaming an Arizona server for a leak of confidential information that forced the Sacramento court to close its case files to the public for almost a week. “This would not have happened if we had our own server,” said Sacramento’s Presiding Judge Steve White. “The entirety of the problem is based on the configuration of the system and the Arizona server.”

      California’s project to link trial courts with each other throughout the state – estimated to cost well over $1 billion – has been called a boondoggle by some trial judges, who have attacked its price-tag and functionality. The Sacramento judges have clashed repeatedly with the Judicial Council, the statewide governing body for the courts, over Sacramento’s intention to take control of its case information system by using a local server.
      In the latest salvo, Presiding Judge White criticized William Vickrey, executive director of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, over a spokesman’s statement in a news article that seemed to fault the Sacramento court’s staff for the leak of confidential information.
     “The release of confidential information was entirely the result of actions by the AOC contractor, Deloitte, which did not even inform our court of the changes it made or the resulting problem,” White wrote last week. “We were left to make the discovery on our own. Yet anyone reading the AOC’s press is told that the problem lies with our court. This is false. It is unfair and it is wrong. Judges and staff on this court find this most offensive.”
     In an interview last week, White said Vickrey has not responded independently to his letter, which also demanded an apology. White said the AOC’s haste to blame his staff suggests it is on the defensive about its expensive case management system.
     The most recent flare-up followed an order from the Judicial Council in May, directing White to “maintain the status quo” and remain on the Arizona server. White rejected that order, saying the council did not have the authority to dictate the way Sacramento’s courts manage their case information.
     White said the AOC has not pressed further on its demand that Sacramento put plans for a local server on hold, but representatives from the statewide body had visited his court to look at problems with the case management system. The system could work for his court, he said, if only the AOC would allow the court to unplug from the Arizona server, as the courts in Orange County and San Diego have done.
     White said Sacramento is moving forward with plans to host its own server in an effort to avoid future errors, though it may not be ready for a few months. “We’re doing exactly what we said we would,” White said. “We’re moving rapidly forward with setting up a server here.”

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