SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to move two vacant judgeships from one county to another could gain the support of the judge who could be losing the slots provided his county’s budget is not impacted.
Alameda County Superior Court Presiding Judge Morris Jacobson has informed the three-member senate budget committee weighing the issue that he will not stand in the way if it does not disturb the county’s budget. Otherwise, “we’ll have the strongest possible opposition.”
Transferring judgeships has long been a contentious issue in the state, and after the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported in 2016 that the state had a shortage of 189 judges, the governor started considering what some consider unconventional means of dealing with the problem as part of his 2017-18 budget package.
“I, and my legislative colleagues, will be working with constituents and stakeholders throughout California to vet the governor’s proposal and ensure that the budget is responsive to Californians' needs and demonstrates the progressive leadership California is known and respected for throughout the world,” State Sen. Nancy Skinner, who chairs the state's budget subcommittee No. 5, told the Northern California Record in a statement.
While Jacobson is on record sympathizing with the other counties potentially involved, he insists Alameda County simply can’t afford a funding loss on any level.
Jacobson said the problem is that his county has a lot of judges and little funding, while other counties are saddled with a severe shortage in both areas.
Meanwhile, Brown has said the proposed changes will shift the judgeships where the workload is highest. He has staunchly insisted he will not agree to fund any new positions until the vacant judgeships have been moved.
Brian McCabe, a representative of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, previously said judges across the state are split on the issue.
McCabe said the unchartered territory has left many close to the situation with questions about what it could all mean.