Assembly to consider $2 billion computer system for state courts

April 11, 2010

A state Assembly budget committee is scheduled to begin hearings this week on a proposed new statewide computer system for the courts whose price tag has already mushroomed up to $2 billion. [Sacramento Bee]

The so-called Court Case Management System has come under fire by several judges, critical of such an expense as California battles severe budget woes.

Meanwhile, the Administrative Office of the Court continues to support the computer upgrade, calling it “important” for the overall court system.

The project started out in 2002 as a modest effort to upgrade computers in several Southern California counties, but quickly ballooned into a statewide effort. Ronald George, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, considers the computer system “vital” to unifying the courts across the state.

However, many judges are objecting to such an expenditure when they’re forced to close their courtrooms one day a month to save costs.

That concern is also shared by state Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).

“I’m very concerned that courtrooms are being closed and people are being laid off,” Lowenthal said. “The outcome of that is that people have a very limited access to justice.”

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With the problem of bankruptcy squarely facing California, I can’t understand the reason for this gross expenditure. What are these people thinking of?