Articles Tagged with California

by

Money RoadCourthouse News reported this week on the “land grab” in California’s local court systems. When the courts announced last year that they were killing the CCMS (California Case Management System), vendors pounced on the opportunity to provide contracted solutions in its place. CCMS was a project started by the California courts over ten years ago. It was intended to link all of the county and state courthouses together into a centralized docketing system. As Courthouse news reports, however,

The massive CCMS project was deep-sixed last year by the Judicial Council under pressure from the Legislature, after the Administrative Office of the Courts had spent $520 million in taxpayer money over ten years on a project that was nowhere near completion and carried a projected price tag of $1.9 billion.

Now that CCMS is dead, Courts are turning to the private sector to update their docketing systems, which languished while waiting for the new system. Three bidders have emerged as candidates for the new systems: New Mexico-based Justice Systems Inc., Texas-based Tyler Technologies, and Pennsylvania-based LT-Tech owned by Thomson Reuters (formerly West Publishing). According to Courthouse News, “The deals have three basic financial components, licensing and installation for millions of dollars, yearly upkeep for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and, a golden egg, the right to charge lawyers a fee, generally around $5, for every document electronically filed.”


Posted in: Legal Research

by

keyboardCalifornia’s Public Records Act survived a near miss last week. The EFF reports that the California legislature passed a bill last week that included a trailer to cut CPRA funding. The trailer bill would have made compliance with the CPRA optional for local governments.

Thanks to pressure from activists, the bill was replaced, and the CPRA language removed. But it’s still sitting on Gov. Brown’s desk.

California’s Public Records Act, codified at Cal. Gov. Code §6250 et seq. is a state version of the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It is designed to help citizens access the papers and records of state agencies. It covers all public records, defined in Cal. Gov. Code §6252 (e) as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.” It also includes “Writings,” defined at §6252(g) as “any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.”


by

dollarCalifornia is proposing to charge citizens to access and read court files and other public documents. The Administrative Office of the Courts has proposed that the state charge $10 for every name, file, or information that comes back from a search. Techdirt has the story. Charging for search results – where have I heard that before?

VoxPopuLII has a great post from few days ago about access to published court opinions by the guys at Ravel Law. In their post, they discuss the de facto privatization of the law, and how to effectively change that. It’s a concise, organized overview of the problem and solution.


by

cc.largeCalifornia Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-42nd Dist.) has put forth a bill to apply a Creative Commons License to the California Code of Regulations (CCR). According to Mr. Nestande’s site, “AB 292 will provide that the full text of the California Code of Regulations shall have an open access creative commons attribution license, allowing any individual, at no cost, to use, distribute and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes.”

Right now, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) owns and publishes the CCR. The OAL was created by Cal. Gov’t Code §11340. Cal. Gov. Code §11343 et seq governs the filing and publication of the Cal. Code Regs. The Office of Administrative law collects the regulations from issuing agencies, and after notice, sends them to the Secretary of State for certification. The OAL is then charged with providing for the “or the official compilation, printing, and publication of adoption, amendment, or repeal of regulations, which shall be known as the California Code of Regulations.” (Cal. Gov’t Code §11344(a)).

Section 11344.4(a) also allows them to sell the CCR: “The California Code of Regulations, the California Code of Regulations Supplement, and the California Regulatory Notice Register shall be sold at prices which will reimburse the state for all costs incurred for printing, publication, and distribution.”

The OAL currently contracts with Thompson West/Barclay’s to publish the official version of the CCR. According to Mr. Nestande’s office, the OAL licenses the CCR to West for $400,000 per year, plus 7% of all royalties. [The office did not have a copy of the latest contract, but you can see the contract for 2009-2012 here]. We don’t how much it would cost to produce the CCR in house, but it’s not a stretch to imagine that the OAL is turning a profit on this deal – which seems to be outside the scope of its charter in 11344.4. Mr. Nestande’s office points out that this creates a conflict of interest for the OAL – “As more businesses are covered by new regulations, more businesses need to purchase access to those regulations from Thomson, and OAL derives a larger profit.  This makes it difficult to be truly objective when approving new regulations, if it directly benefits from expanding the state’s regulatory burden.”

I think the bigger conflict of interest is that Cal Gov’t Code §11344(a) requires the OAL to post the CCR’s online for free, but their incentive for profit is interfering with the public’s ability to view and use those regulations. The CCR is hosted online by Westlaw. They are papered over with disclaimers (“The Official California Code of Regulations is available in looseleaf printed format from Thomson – West / Barclays (1-800-888-3600)) and copyright statements (© 2013 Office of Administrative Law for the State of California;” “Use of all or part of the data displayed on this site for commercial or other unauthorized purposes is prohibited.”). The regs on the site are not indexed by Google, and users cannot download or copy them without violating the copyright. What’s more, they’re not official. The Bluebook requires you to cite to the official version, which is the Westlaw Compilation.

There’s another absurdity in the status quo: Westlaw actually sells copies of its Compilated Regs to other state offices. You know, state regulatory offices that devised the regs to begin with. According to the Assemblyman’s office, “Nearly all state agencies and departments purchase the compilation from West, in addition to hundreds of trade associations, and individual business owners that purchase single section subscriptions.”


Posted in: Laws, Legal Research

by

Sure, California may be facing a $15.7 billion deficit, but the Facebook IPO has Sacramento singing, “Goodbye grey sky, hello blue.”

State senator Michael J. Rubio already has plans on how to spend the expected bump to the state’s coffers.


by

Last Monday, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. released a revised budget for the State of California. Initially, Governor Brown had estimated a $9.2 billion budget shortfall for 2012-13, but this sum increased to $15.7 billion “as a result of a reduced revenue outlook, higher costs to fund schools, and decisions by the federal government and courts to block budget cuts.” To bridge the gap, the Governor is proposing to “increase[] the personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers for seven years and increase[] the sales tax by one-quarter percent for four years.”

Currently, the California personal income tax rate is capped at 9.30%. Under The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, the tax rate will increase as follows.


Posted in: Laws

by

On Monday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended its decision to keep sealed the videos from Perry v. Schwarzenegger (the federal trial on California’s same-sex marriage initiative, Proposition 8).


Posted in: Laws, Legal News

by

This morning, President Barack Obama participated in a LinkedIn Town Hall Meeting at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Since the museum is across the street from us, we were able to participate in some of the fanfare that a Presidential visit brings. But, the parking situation was a bit difficult to say the least.



Posted in: Justia News

by

Step 1. California imposes a Use Tax collection duty on retailers with an affiliate or corporate nexus to California.

Step 2. Amazon immediately abandons its California-based affiliates.

Step 3. Amazon seeks a referendum on the New Sales and Use Tax law.

Step 4. Rinse and Repeat.


Posted in: Laws

by

In the next few weeks, children throughout the Golden State will bid farewell to the unstructured freedom that summer affords as they head back to rule the corridors and classrooms of their local schools. For public school teachers, the new school year offers a respite from this summer of discontent. The continuing recession has thinned their ranks a bit, leaving many feeling beleaguered by layoffs and budget cuts. Additionally, the effort to identify underperforming teachers by parsing standardized testing data seems to assign all of the blame for failing students on the teachers alone.

Of course, the teachers, who serve on the instructional front line, are the most visible faces in the educational system. But, we should not forget the men (and women) behind the curtain: the members of the state senate and assembly.


Posted in: Laws