The judicial branch of state government in California engages in policy making through the Judicial Council. The Council makes policy for the courts in this state, including the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Superior Courts. Article VI of the state Constitution (Sections 4, 6 and 12) provides for the role of the Judicial Council.
The Council’s “Guiding Principle” is to “provide leadership in the judicial branch by using a set of guiding principles, while working to improve the future of the judicial branch by overcoming common fundamental challenges.” It also pursues a number of goals, such as providing access, fairness and diversity; independence and accountability; modernization of management and administration; quality of justice and service to the public; as well as adequate, stable and predictable funding for a fully functioning branch.
The Council has a number of ongoing programs and projects, including its Strategic Plan, which “outlines the long-range strategic goals and systematic initiatives of the judicial branch,” annual legislative and budget priorities, and management of court facilities across the state.
The Council is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and it is charged with ensuring the consistent, independent, impartial, and accessible administration of justice in this state. The Council employs staff to assist it, and utilizes a number of advisory bodies and task forces to help conduct its work.
The following are the Internal Committees of the Council:
- Executive & Planning Committee
- Judicial Branch Budget Committee
- Judicial Council Technology Committee
- Legislation Committee
- Litigation Management Committee
- Rules Committee
The following are the Task Forces of the Council:
- Administrative Presiding Justices Advisory Committee
- Advisory Committee on Audits and Financial Accountability for the Judicial Branch
- Advisory Committee on Providing Access & Fairness
- Appellate Advisory Committee
- Center for Judicial Education and Research Advisory Committee
- Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee
- Civil Jury Instructions Advisory Committee
- Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee
- Court Executives Advisory Committee
- Court Facilities Advisory Committee
- Court Interpreters Advisory Panel
- Court Security Advisory Committee
- Criminal Jury Instructions Advisory Committee
- Criminal Law Advisory Committee
- Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee
- Information Technology Advisory Committee
- Judicial Branch Workers’ Compensation Program Advisory Committee
- Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee
- Shriver Civil Counsel Act Implementation Committee
- Traffic Advisory Committee
- Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee
- Trial Court Facility Modification Advisory Committee
- Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee
- Tribal Court-State Court Forum
- Workload Assessment Advisory Committee
The Council has been at the forefront of historical reforms (such as trial court unification) in judicial administration of California’s court system. It also maintains annual reports on court workload information, annual outlook reports, court statistics, and legislative reports. With these historical materials, the Council provides a wealth of valuable information regarding the state’s court system and its operation and the administration of justice in California.