California’s budget cuts have prompted some courthouse shutdowns and clerk layoffs, but 119 new Superior Court judges are spending two weeks at a judicial rookie camp at a San Jose resort, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The Administrative Office of the Courts, the state agency that oversees the training, estimated the program at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion cost about $260,000. That doesn’t include the travel costs for both the judges and 69 volunteer faculty, whose expenses are being shared this year by the state and the locally run trial courts.
The training – referred to as “judicial college” – is mandated under California court rules. But Presiding San Francisco Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein, who has been at odds with the AOC over its excessive spending while her staff is being cut to half its 2010 size, said the real issue is whether the state is providing the training “at the minimum cost possible.” The 43-year-old program used to be held at UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr Campus, where judges bunked in the student dorms. The program later moved to somewhat nicer accommodations at a Holiday Inn in San Francisco. A couple of years back, however, the training moved to the mansion, with its “stunning decor, fine dining and unparalleled guest service.”