I’ve been trying to understand changes over time in the California state budget, though the data are presented in a way that makes that extremely difficult to do. I did spend enough time to discover one component of the budget that seems to have grown at a pretty healthy pace if you look at the last decade as a whole.
In the Governor’s proposed 2009-2010 budget, $3.4 billion dollars, or 2.5% of the total, is allocated to state trial court funding. That’s a 63% increase over the $2.1 billion that was spent in 2001-2002. Which led me to wonder: when, and in what manner, did California voters express a desire for a big increase in consumption of judicial services provided by the state over the last decade?
Let me tell you about the latest court case in which I’ve been involved. I received the following notice in the mail a couple weeks ago:
To: Any and all persons who purchased merchandise with a credit card at a Crate and Barrel retail or outlet store in California from June 3, 2004 through July 16, 2009 and who were asked to provide an address, telephone number, zip code, e-mail address, or any personal identification information at the time of the credit card transaction….
An action is currently pending in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego (the “Court”) entitled McCarthy v. Euromarket Designs Inc., Case No. 37-2008-00085041-CU-BT-CTL (the “Consumer Lawsuit”). As a result of a proposed settlement of the Consumer Lawsuit (the “Settlement”), you may be entitled to share in the benefits made available to those persons described above….
The plaintiff in the Consumer Lawsuit filed a class action lawsuit against Euromarket Designs, Inc. (“Euromarket Designs”) on behalf of herself and those persons described above. The Consumer Lawsuit alleges that Euromarket Designs unlawfully requested and recorded personal identification information from customers during credit card sales transactions…
The Court has granted preliminary approval of the proposed Settlement. Euromarket Designs has agreed to provide all Class Members who have not chosen to opt-out of the Settlement with a certificate, attached to this notice, entitling them to $15.00 off a single purchase at any Crate and Barrel retail or outlet store in California (the “Certificate”)….
Euromarket Designs has also agreed that if the Settlement is granted final approval by the Court, Euromarket Designs will pay reasonable attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses and court costs in an amount to be determined by the Court … up to a maximum limit of $223,000.
I receive something like this on a pretty regular basis these days– someone has sued, allegedly on my behalf, a company for something that I in fact do not acknowledge to be a serious transgression against me personally. The award is significant dollars for the lawyers who file the case, and some trinket offered to me.
I’m sure some of our lawyer readers can offer spirited arguments for why this growth in the role of the courts has been most helpful and beneficial. But here’s what I really wish they’d tell me. If California voters desired a decrease rather than increase in the consumption of judicial services provided by the state, exactly how, under our current system of governance, could we achieve it?