State Auditor Elaine Howle is the eyes, ears and conscience of California residents.

Her job is to poke her nose into the rubbish fires of California government — as she did with her probe into the University of California system.

In case you missed that story, here’s the condensed version. Despite the best efforts of UC President Janet Napolitano to mislead Howle’s investigators, the state auditor discovered that Napolitano was sitting on a $175 million secret stash of cash.

Ultimately, two of the UC’s top executives resigned. Napolitano somehow managed to hang on to her job.

Now, reports CALmatters Capitol columnist Dan Walters, Howle’s team is taking a deep dive into the little-known Commission on Judicial Performance. It investigates complaints against California judges and disciplines them when warranted.

Judge Thwart’s Howle’s Attempt to See Records

The commission, however, is doing everything it can to keep its records away from Howle’s prying eyes.

Writes Walters: “The commission took the unprecedented step of suing Howle and on Dec. 19, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos issued an order thwarting Howle, saying she ‘has no legal right to access the CJP’s confidential records.’ “

Why should the records of investigations into California judges be made available to Howle?

We’ll let Walters answer that one.

“Reformers contend that the CJP, which has been in business since 1960, is lax in investigating allegations of judicial misconduct but masks its poor performance by making virtually all of its actions secret,” Walters writes.

“From a public policy standpoint, there is – or should be – no reason to shield CJP’s performance from scrutiny, especially since Howle’s authority to examine confidential records includes a caveat that none will be revealed to the public. She and the Legislature are legitimately interested in whether the CJP is doing its job, not in airing the dirty linen of individual judges.”

Do yourself a favor and read Walters’ entire column at this link.


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