Courts Whistleblower Says Contractors "Grossly
California's Administrative Office of the courts lavished money on unlicensed
contractors who "grossly overcharged" for services, a lawsuit filed by an
The suit was brought on behalf of taxpayers by Michael Paul, a senior technical
analyst in the Administrative Office of the Courts' information services
department. The AOC is the administrative department responsible for
overseeing California's court system.
California court employees have also raised serious questions about
misspending by the AOC, and they support two bills in the Legislature to
require fiscal accountability and give protections for whistleblowers. You can
read more here.
Paul has blown the whistle on the AOC in the past, but his latest suit offers
fresh details about alleged wasteful spending by the AOC, after it took over
maintenance of courthouses from California's counties.
In a complaint filed in Superior Court in San Francisco, Paul says that his first
hint that something was wrong came when, in 2007, he and a colleague
proposed replacing the computer-based system that regulates mechanical and
electrical equipment at one courthouse. But the proposal was rejected and
instead the project went to an affiliate of the giant Jacobs Engineering Group
and a smaller firm Paul says the Jacobs affiliate got $20,000 for the proposal,
which he says was plagiarized from an Army Corps of Engineers study that was
"widely available on the Internet."
When Paul looked into the Jacobs affiliate's qualifications, he learned it didn't
have a current contractor's license.
Paul says he also learned the Jacobs affiliate was charging $1,000 per square
foot to build a courthouse--four times what the federal General Services
Administration was charging--and the feds' costs included post-9/11 security
Even though Paul brought these issues to his supervisors, he says they
continued to give Jacobs more work and to overpay them for it. For example,
when the AOC wanted electrical work done at a datacenter, Paul found a
licensed contractor who offered to do it for $75,000. But the AOC wanted to
hand the project to Jacobs, which was asking $189,000 to do the work-- or
rather, to subcontract the work to--you guessed it--yet another unlicensed
Paul raised all of these issues with supervisors, but his objections fell on deaf
ears. What's more, Paul says agency officials restricted his computer access,
effectively demoting him, which could violate state whistleblower protection laws.
The officials say he was not demoted.
Paul says the AOC only began to pay attention to him when he took his case
outside regular channels, writing legislators, the agency's director and even
Ronald George, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Shortly afterward, the agency changed its tune, suing the contractors and
asking that $32 million dollars be returned because it is unlawful to do
construction work for the government without a valid contractors' license. The
allegedly unlicensed contractors, including Aleut Global Solutions, have
countersued, saying the agency still owes them another $8 million.
Paul's lawsuit seeks an injunction to keep the Administrative Office of the
Courts from wasting money, and whatever compensation "the court deems just
A spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, Philip Carrizosa, said
in a prepared statement that Paul's "lawsuit is without merit and we welcome the
opportunity to prove that in court. The AOC already filed suit in December
against those contractors with which it was doing business that had failed either
to maintain or to obtain in the first instance proper licensure...That litigation
remains pending. The contractors with which the AOC is doing business are
now properly licensed and have been for some time."
Attorneys for the Jacobs affiliate and for Aleut did not respond to a request for
You can read the full complaint here.
Categories: Blow the Whistle!, Center for Public Accountability, Keep Superior
Courts Whistleblower Says Contractors "Grossly Overcharged"
Critical Audit Finds Lack of Oversight in $203 Million in LA City Outsourcing
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email@example.com, or call our tip line at 888-734-8660.
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Waste and fraud in government spending have an enemy on the Internet.
Accountable California is a project of the Center for Public Accountability at
SEIU Local 721 to help make government work better for Californians and
improve the quality and cost effectiveness of public services through original
investigative research and analysis.
Agency that runs
The report, ordered by
California Chief Justice Tani
undermine her attempts to roll
back budget cuts of about $544
May 30, 2012
By Maura Dolan
Los Angeles Times
The agency that runs the
California court system has
become "dysfunctional" and
bloated with high-salaried
bureaucrats and requires a
major overhaul, according to a
report ordered by California
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-
The 300-page report, which will
be presented to judicial branch
leaders next month, comes as
the courts are trying to stave off
large budget cuts from
Sacramento. Although ordered
by Cantil-Sakauye and written
by a committee she named, the
highly critical evaluation may
undermine the chief jurist's
efforts to roll back projected
budget cuts of about $544
The committee of 11 judges
said the Administrative Office
of the Courts, the San
Francisco-based agency that
runs the court system, is
overstaffed, "top-heavy" and
unwieldy. The office has strayed
from its required task of serving
the courts and become
controlling, deceptive and
secretive, the judges said.
"The top-level decision-making
process of the AOC became
insular, with a top-down
management style limiting input
from those within the
organization," the report said.
The judges cited 17 positions
with maximum annual salaries at
or above $175,000, "numerous
positions" with salaries in
excess of $100,000 and a staff
attorney who was permitted to
telecommute from Switzerland.
The problems occurred during
the tenure of retired Chief
Justice Ronald M. George and
retired administrative office
Director William Vickrey, the
report said. During that time,
new committees, rules and
programs were established at
the behest of the Judicial
Council, the courts' governing
body headed by the chief
justice, the report said. The
council failed to keep a close
eye on management and
bureaucracy as staffing swelled
to 1,100, according to the
The report recommends greater
oversight by the Judicial
Council, a restructuring of the
bureaucracy, regular internal
audits, staff cuts and possible
relocation of the Administrative
Office of the Courts from pricey
office space in San Francisco to
that the report contains "hard
criticisms" and noted that
downsizing and restructuring
are already occurring. She said
staffing will be down to 860 by
June 30 because of ongoing
The Alliance of California
Judges, a dissenting group that
has complained about the court
bureaucracy, called the
evaluation "an A to Z indictment
of an out-of-control
organization." The group said
the report confirmed what the
Alliance has been saying for
years: "The AOC is broken at its
very core and has been allowed
to run itself … for well over a
|San Diego Education Report
Administrative Office of the Courts--California
What kind of people does the AOC hire as chief executives of County Courts in
California? John Montgomery and Michael Roddy are two examples. There is a lot of
money circulating in our justice system, a system that sucks up a lot of money to send
little people to jail or prison for small crimes. Taxpayers pay huge amounts for both the
court system and incarceration. Is is possible that we're distracted by the little crooks
and we don't see the big crooks that are not only costing us money, but are doing far
more serious harm by undermining our laws?
Ex-Marin top court official arrested
Former Marin Superior Court Executive Officer John Montgomery was arrested
Saturday in Virginia after Marin officials filed a complaint charging him with 10 counts
of felony conflict of interest.
Montgomery, who abruptly resigned last March 31 from the top administrative job at
the county courts after 17 years, is alleged to have allowed a subordinate, Linda Lau,
to receive a series of county contracts but to have failed to disclose that he had a
personal relationship with her and that they owned property together.
Lau worked under contract in Montgomery's office as a software consultant from
October 2001 until March 22, 2005. During most of that time, she was paid at a rate of
about $100 an hour. Montgomery approved employment contracts for Lau totaling
$674,022 during the period.
The allegations are the result of a six-month investigation, said Marin District Attorney
Ed Berberian, who filed the complaint late Friday...
|News, information and ideas about our
by Maura Larkins