PLEASE NOTE: This blog is a bigotry free zone open to all persons, regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, political affiliations, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or sexual orientation. Further, this blog is open to the broad variety of opinions out there and will not delete any comments based upon point of view. However, comments will be deleted if they are worded in an abusive manner and show disrespect for the intellectual process.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

LETS GET HONEST! THE CT JUDICIAL BRANCH COULD EASILY CUT $70 MILLION FROM ITS BUDGET IN NON JUDICIAL SERVICES!

In a recent report of the "CT Law Tribune" dated February 19, 2016, Michelle Tuccitto Sullo reported that Governor Malloy is recommending that the CT Judicial Branch cut its budget by $70 million.

In response, Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick Carroll III made dire apocalyptic predictions regarding what would happen if this cut goes through, "If a budget reduction of this magnitude goes into effect, the court system as we know it will not exist after July 1, 2016."

Of course, those of us who have been harshly treated by this very system, those of us who have lost children and have been driven into bankruptcy as a result of family court corruption, are not going to feel too upset about that. In fact, we are looking forward to it. In fact, if the CT Judicial Branch would like, I can easily compile a list of those judges, family relations personnel and judicial marshals we think the CT Judicial Branch can easily do without. If they are itching to close up some courts because of the expense, and need a few suggestions, I think we could do away with some of the nonsense going on in Middletown.

In discussing budget cuts it is interesting that for the better part the CT Judicial Branch talked about cutting financial resources to the most vulnerable, not to the fat cat money producing departments like family relations. The Branch proposed cuts to juvenile detention centers, alternative to incarceration programs, the Office of Victim Services, and translators. Nothing was said about cuts to services to persons with disabilities because, as we know, the CT Judicial Branch can't be bothered to serve those with disabilities, preferring to deny such people access to Judicial Services instead.

Anyway, before legislators and citizens in the State of Connecticut start running scared in the face of the terrifying scenarios that Judge Patrick Carroll describes, I think it is important to consider exactly what we are talking about. Specifically, for those of you who may not have known, it is worth taking note that while most people think the budget for the CT Judicial Branch pays for courthouses, judges, prosecutors, etc., it may come as a surprise to discover that The CT Judicial Branch also pays for what they call "a full range of alternatives to incarceration and evidence-based services for adult and juvenile populations." The latter definition is so general, it could pretty much cover anything, and does.

What this means is that, in other words, the CT Judicial Branch has economic tentacles in a broad range of areas--churches, hospitals, community organizations, and other government agencies--which goes well beyond their mandate "to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner." A selected list of such places is as follows:

21st Century Media Newspaper, LLC  $11,116
Access Rehab Centers, LLC  $75.00
Advanced Trauma Solutions, INC.  $373,272
Apostolic Community Church of Jesus & Ministries  $9,988
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation  $14,664
African Caribbean American Parents of Children With Disabilities,  $100,000
APT Foundation: Treatment, Research, &
 Recovery  $370,000 
Aspire Family Medicine & Wellness Center $25.00
Association of Religious Communities, INC  $144,985
Attorney General $20,000 - why?
Bridges - A Community Support System, Inc.  $2,174
Catholic Charities & Family Services  $70,703
Catholic Charities INC Archdioceses of Hartford  $1,035,507
Center For Children's Advocacy  $10,500
Central Connecticut State University  $722,933
Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health  $2,500
Child & Family Agency Southeastern CT INC  $1,599
Child Advocates of Connecticut  $50,000
Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut  $220,727 
Child Health and Development Institute INC  $262,500
Children in Placement Conn INC  $199,999
Children's Law Center of CT  $109,836
Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic  $251,664
Communicare INC  $98,028
Community Health Resources INC  $687,558
Community Partners in Action INC  $12,976,031
Community Renewal Team INC  $567,650
Community Resources For Justice  $116,305
Compass Group/Chartwells  $931,857
Compass Youth Collaborative, INC  $56,833
Connecticut Children's Medical Center  $10,926
CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence  $3,159,621
CT Community Providers Association  $45,785
CT Counseling Centers INC  $771,347
Concentra Medical Center  $26563
CT Junior Republic Association  $11,800,351
CT Renaissance INC  $4,049,142
CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services  $1,743,950
CT Youth Services Association  $275,000
David Mandel & Associates, LLC  $18,408
Department of Administrative Services  $2,294,497
Department of Rehabilitation Services  $144,750
Department of Children and Families  $3,264,180
Department of Corrections  $1,762,508
Department of Labor  $80,000
Department of Mental Health and 
  Addiction Services  $9,426,716
Department of Public Safety  $5,170
Department of Social Services  $72,412
Department of Transportation  $408,562
Domestic Violence Crisis Center  $140,934
Families in Crisis, INC  $765,113
Families and Children's Aid, INC  $106,673
Family Centered Services of CT INC  $269,192
Family Centers INC  $2,375
Family Reentry INC  $876,608
Hearst CT Post  $9,881
Intercommunity INC  $205,659
Klingberg Comprehensive Program Services INC  $255,211
Life Strategies Network LLC  $303,701
Lifebridge Community Services INC $163,050
Midwestern CT Council of Alcoholism INC  $1,306,552
NAFI Connecticut, INC  $6,137,086
New Directions INC of N. Central CT  $183,772
Newtown Youth & Family Services INC  $1,091,249
Post Traumatic Stress Center, LLC  $23,010
Removed For Privacy  $171,752
St. Anthony of Padua Church  $59,000
St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center  $1,212,736
Republican American  $3,230
Rushford Center INC  $492,075
Southwest Community Health Center INC  $251,172
St. Mary's Hospital Corp.  $25,400
St. Vincent Medical Center Foundation  $119,260
The Child and Family Guidance Center  $20,430
The Connection INC  $4,008,576
The Consultation Center INC  $226,750
The CT Law Tribune  $31,082
The Governor's Prevention Partnership  $559,389
The Hartford Courant  $2,082
UConn Health Center  $1,138,457
Wheeler Clinic  $7,250,401
William W. Backus Hospital  $16,214
Yale New Haven Hospital  $342,849
YMCA of Metropolitan Hartford INC  $375,000

TOTAL:  $86,543,553

Again, as I have said, none of the items on this considerable list has anything to do with judges, attorneys, clerks, courthouse upkeep, marshals, etc. etc.  These expenditures are all for social services.  Pretty much, if we eliminated them, it looks as though the CT Judicial Branch could save well over $70 million.  Keep in mind that this is just a selected list, so there are more social services that could be cut, if these are insufficient and the State of Connecticut would like to go further.


I did find it interesting to see the CT Judicial Branch contributing financial support to so many other agencies in Connecticut government such as the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Labor, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Attorney General, etc. etc. Here we have the CT Judicial Branch giving the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services over $9 million dollars, then giving  over $2 million to the Department of Administrative Services and over $3 million to DCF.  I can imagine this tossing money back and forth between departments can be a good way of hiding who is getting what money.  You don't just have the State directly give DCF money, you funnel it through the CT Judicial Branch, or through some other government agency.  I can imagine there is a lot of playing around that goes on with this kind of activity.  Further, there is no doubt that this ability of the Judicial Branch to contribute financially to other agencies provides it with a powerful way to extend its influence throughout other State Agencies and potentially dictate their policies. 



The section on "Removed For Privacy" in CT Judicial Branch budget is the most extensive one that I've seen. It goes on for pages and adds up to $171,752.  That's a lot of under the table money.  I checked with other Agencies to see if they had a similar situation and they did not. Apparently, as soon as it was clear that the information on the budget would be free for public review, the other Agencies simply stopped using that label. This wasn't true of the CT Judicial Branch. I'll bet if the CT Judicial Branch eliminated all the expenses in the removed for privacy category, that would be a considerable sum of money.


If there is one conclusion you can draw from simply looking at this review of how the CT Judicial Branch spends its money it is that a considerable chunk of the CT Judicial Branch budget is not applied to running its courthouses, paying its clerks, or its judges. Instead, Judicial Branch money is going to what it said which is alternatives to incarceration, evidence-based services for adult and juvenile populations, and goodness knows what else, since they have a broad lattitude to spend public's money. 

The question we have as taxpayers, however, is since when did the CT Judicial Branch become a social services agency? Is that even constitutionally sound? We are supposed to have three branches of government, and judicial is one, and it should remain judicial, in my view. If it is going to be a social services agency distributing money for mental health services far and yonder, then it is no longer what our founding fathers imagined when it spoke of a judiciary. 

I also thought the Judicial Branch's contribution of approximately $3,159,621 to the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence was considerable. Perhaps this explains the Coalition's weak and inadequate response to the legal abuse of victims of domestic violence in the family courts throughout the State of CT. Most of the women I've spoken to about the services they have received from this Agency express themselves in terms that can only be summed up by the word "wimpy."

Fatherhood Initiative funding extends throughout the vast majority of social services agencies, literally being tacked onto anything vaguely mental health related. So anything on this list with the words "family" or "children" probably has some fatherhood initiative funding associated with it either directly or indirectly. Most particularly I would focus my attention on the considerable sums of money given to the Catholic Church and also other Christian Churches. A considerable amount of fatherhood funding has been faith based funding.

I would also like to point out the many expenditures on print media. In particular, the CT Judicial Branch does contribute approximately $31,000 to "The CT Law Tribune" which acts as the mouthpiece of the CT Judicial Branch and the CT Legal profession as a whole. Money means control in my book. And while I am sure that the CT Judicial Branch is legally required to advertise positions available for employment, and money gets spent on PSAs such as advertising against human trafficking and similar topics, which would be, on the surface, legitimate, I wonder if the CT Judicial Branch is also spending on print media as a means to impact editorial decision making in favor of Branch policies. 

In this regard, I would like to point out that while "The Hartford Courant" only earned approximately $2,082 in the last fiscal year from the CT Judicial Branch, as a rule it has generally received from approximately $18,000 to $27,000, and from State government as a whole, it has received considerably more.

The bottom line is that when The CT Judicial Branch weeps and wrings its hands about the prospect of cutting its budget and talks in dire tones about having to shut down courthouses and fire personnel, I wouldn't be that concerned. It can survive perfectly well by sticking to its mandate of providing legal services and leave social services, and influence peddling to others.

The truth of the matter is that what we have here is the CT Judicial Branch expanding its power by extending its economic power throughout the State of Connecticut by adding social services to its mandate.  Then, at the same time, the CT Judicial Branch has been expanding its legal power and authority by manipulating The Connecticut Practice Book in its favor, and ignoring CGS 51-14 which requires that it ask permission of the State Legislature and the people first prior to doing so.

5 comments:

  1. Also consider the burden on taxpayers from the way judicial branch employees' pension benefits may be calculated. The final report on court monitors and court reporters, 11/4/10, from Justice Katz to Chief Justice Rogers (can be found on CT Jud website) states on pg. 7-8:

    “The issue of separate payment for transcripts should not be discounted, particularly in a
    frugal fiscal environment. In the fiscal year 2009-2010, court reporters and monitors earned
    nearly $1 million in additional compensation beyond their base salaries for transcripts ordered by
    the Judicial Branch and state agencies. Specifically, the Judicial Branch paid $356,862 for
    transcripts and state agencies paid another $52,574.10 Additionally, the State’s Attorneys paid
    $198,476 for regular transcripts, and another $58,785 for felony sentencing transcripts, and in the
    same period, Public Defenders paid $198,173 for transcripts, and the Commission on Child
    Protection spent an estimated $47,473, for a total of $912,345.

    “Additional compensation for transcripts does not simply increase an employee’s annual
    salary, it also increases his or her state retirement pension, not unlike overtime that is earned by
    police and firefighters boosts their pensions. This is concerning as the State Post-Employment
    Benefits Commission reported in late October 2010 that the State Employee Retirement System
    (SERS) plan is under-funded by more than $9 billion, and in 2008 had the fifth-lowest funding
    ratio for its state-sponsored pension plans...”

    It doesn't say whether the transcripts they produce for parties or their counsel (which it is said can run over $10,000 in some appeals) are calculated into the pension benefits. That would be shocking if the payment is made by private parties or journalists, rather than by the state. In other states the transcript production for parties is considered to be independent contractor work. In CT, from what I've been told by a court reporter, they do it on state time and with state equipment.




    ReplyDelete
  2. The Judicial Branch should limit its activities to resolve the cases before it using admissible evidence and hearing appeals of the same. In fact, the Judicial Branch has engaged in enormous mission creep over the years, and now its activities extend far beyond that. That has warped its cost structure and undermined its independence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The 2009 final report on audio recordings and court reporters/monitors states on pg 10: “...However, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, in her January 2009 response, said, 'Not only does this implicate statutory issues, but also union contract rights.'” (Attachments 9 and 10) But the copy of Chief Justice Rogers' January 2009 letter that is attached doesn't say that—It says that the changes cannot be implemented due to “statutory provisions and other limiting concerns”--which is a lot more ambiguous. Question: Did CJ Rogers change her letter After it was sent to the committee to take out the reference to the union contract rights of the court reporters/monitors? (There's a CT criminal statute against changing a public record.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. The problem with the proposed budget cuts isn't that it would force the Judicial Branch to lay off one of every seven employees. The problem is that the other six would still be around to order parents to pay absence amounts to GALs and others who are connected to the judges and incarcerate them when they fail to do so. We should lay off the entire Judicial Branch and start over.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Long ago, Justice Zarella wrote a law review article arguing that when the Judicial Branch does anything more than necessary to resolve disputes it undermines its independence. Zarella's article got some publicity for a while, but has since been forgotten. The Judicial Branch has expanded into lots of other areas which, even if they are legitimate functions of government, should not be undertaken by the Judicial Branch. I suspect that has made them more bloated and more subject to cuts. I suspect the judges may rue the day they decided to coop the functions of the other branches of government.

    ReplyDelete