We have all been surprised by the depth of budget cuts in California but many attorneys were unprepared for the jaw-dropping budget cuts brought down on the San Diego Superior Court. Today, it was announced the San Diego Superior Court will have to reduce its 2013-2014 fiscal year spending by $40 Million. That’s up from a budget cut of $14 Million for the approaching fiscal year.
Beginning as early as July 1, lawyers and those utilizing the court system should expect:
-All business offices will close by noon on Fridays. Get your filings in early!
-Ten departments across San Diego County will close. In the central branch, downtown, 6 criminal courts and 1 civil court will no longer function.
-Probate operations in North County, at the Vista courthouse, will be moved downtown.
-During periods of time, no court reporters will be available. As such, prepare to request a court reporter from one of the local court reporting services.
-Upwards of 75 courthouse employees will be laid off. In addition, the number of management level employees will be significantly reduced.
By the start of the 2013-2014 fiscal year:
-All civil business offices in El Cajon and South Bay will be shuttered for an indeterminate amount of time. All filings must be done in the downtown and Vista courthouses. This is a significant restriction in the public’s right to access the court system!
-San Diego Superior Court will look to close and restructure as many as 40 courtrooms.
-As many as 250 court employees, in total, could be eliminated. Numerous courtrooms staff will be eliminated, including: staff attorneys, clerks, independent calendar clerks, court reporters and commissioners.
These budgets cuts affect court systems across the state. Undoubtedly, the state’s budget crisis is nearly unmanageable if cuts such as these are being put into place. Nevertheless, these reductions are so significant they affect the public’s right to access the court systems. As presiding Judge Robert Trentacosta stated: “…such cuts threaten the stability of our third branch of government.”
It is no secret that all public state agencies are hurting these days. However, our judicial system is not something we can allow to be compromised during this difficult time when we need stability and faith in our legal system the most. Please write your local representative and Governor Jerry Brown and let him know these cuts are unacceptable.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego Superior Court News Release
Photo Credit: Chad Wilson