California lawmakers call for halt to court computer project
A legislative panel recommended Wednesday that California’s courts suspend a computer modernization project that has grown in cost from $260 million to $1.9 billion with uncertainty over whether it is affordable.
The 4-0 vote by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, which sets the stage for action by the full Legislature, would allow the new computer system to be operated in seven counties where work has begun, but to put a hold on the project in the 51 other counties until the Legislature can consider alternatives.
"The costs are skyrocketing," complained Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville).
The proposal to suspend the Court Case Management System (CCMS) was supported by a dissident group called the Alliance of California Judges and workers represented by the Service Employees International Union. Both groups told the committee Wednesday that courtrooms are being closed because of budget cuts made worse as the computer project takes tens of millions of dollars away from operations.
"When it comes to the judicial system, our highest priority must be to keep our courts open," said Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles). "That includes redirecting money from CCMS to ensure access to justice throughout the state.”
Appellate Justice Terry Bruiniers, who is overseeing the project, said the state Judicial Council will meet soon on the question of how to proceed with modernization of the courts’ antiquated computers. Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), the committee chairman, told Bruiniers that the court administration still has time to come up with a plan for completing the project.
"We’re taking a little time-out here," Cedillo told the judge. "You have the opportunity to persuade us to go forward."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) led the charge Wednesday to suspend a costly court computer project. Photographer: Brian Van Der Brug/ Los Angeles Times