Los Angeles County Superior Court to Close one Day Per Month!

Los Angeles County Superior Court to close one day per month because of budget deficit

*** August 29, 2010 Update: The Los Angeles County Superior Court has announced that it has indefinitely suspended the one day closure per month. In other words, they are back to a normal schedule. To be frank, with the State budget deficit being what is is, I have no clue where they came up with the money to avoid the one day closure. In any case this is good news for people who need the Courts.

I am going to post the actual news release from the Los Angeles Superior Court, and then write some comments below. Here is the news release:

NEWS
RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Responding to Fiscal Emergency, Los Angeles Superior Court to Close One Day Per Month Action Takes Effect Wednesday, July 15, 2009 Some Limited Services To Be Maintained

Los Angeles Superior Court
Los Angeles County
www.lasuperiorcourt.org
Contact: Public Information Office 213-974-5227
Public Information Officer: Allan Parachini

Responding to the deepening statewide financial crisis, the Los Angeles Superior Court announced today that it will shut down nearly all of its operations and furlough employees one Wednesday per month, beginning July 15, 2009.

Implementation of the furlough plan, however, may not be enough to avert employee layoffs and, eventually, closure of entire courthouses if the budget climate does not improve markedly by the beginning of the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The one-day per month Court closure is expected to save $18 million per year.

The Court faces an estimated budget shortfall of nearly $90 million for the coming fiscal year—nearly double the amount in the most recent budget crisis that erupted in 2002, which ultimately resulted in closure of 29 courtrooms and layoffs of more than 150 employees.

Under a plan approved last week by the Court’s judicial leadership, if the fiscal situation continues to deteriorate, the jobs of a quarter of the Court’s 5,400 employees could be eliminated within the next four years. There would be reductions in courthouses and courtrooms in operation throughout the county.

“We face a serious crisis with immediate impacts that can be blunted, but not avoided,” said Presiding Judge Charles W. (Tim) McCoy. “We learned from our experiences of 2002 through 2004. Over the intervening years, we have accumulated modest reserves that will enable us to soften the pain of these cuts for at least the first year of the new crisis. Unfortunately, we anticipate this difficult budget environment will remain with us for four years.

“We cannot allow denial, false hope or wishful thinking to cause us to drift through the crisis. We should expect things will grow increasingly difficult before they begin to get better. We must, and will, remain masters of our own destiny to the extent possible.”

“The public must realize that the state’s fiscal situation means we cannot actually solve the budget crisis we face” said John A. Clarke, the Court’s executive officer/clerk. “The best we can do is to minimize the pain these cuts will inflict. No one—most of all the Court—is happy about this.” McCoy noted that today’s announcement of the effective closure of the entire court one day a month comes on an Election Day on which voters are deciding the fates of six budget-related ballot propositions.

“Even if all of these measures pass, there would be no discernable, immediate improvement in the Court budget situation,” McCoy said. “We know that reducing and eliminating court services will cause all of our stakeholders—from customers with traffic tickets to lawyers with court dates—great inconvenience. Our objective is to give these constituencies as much time as possible to prepare for the furlough program when it begins on July 15. We know that every day of advance warning of these closures is important to our customers.”

State court leaders are also considering one-day-per-month furloughs and other steps to respond to the financial crisis. McCoy noted that the Los Angeles Superior Court plan is being implemented even though the Judicial Council of California has not yet announced any statewide court closure or furlough plan. “We are the largest and most complex court system in the United States,” McCoy said. “You cannot suddenly bring a system like ours to a halt. This must be orderly and planned and that takes time.”

Details of the Los Angeles Superior Court closure/furlough program include these:
–The court system will close on the third Wednesday of each month, affecting about 600 courtrooms and bench officers and more than 5,000 employees who work in 50 separate courthouse facilities.

–While most courthouses will be closed, some courthouses will necessarily continue to be open, with full security protection to serve the needs of county agencies like the District Attorney, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, Probation Department, City Attorney and Child Support Services Department, whose operations are located inside courthouses and are unaffected by the furlough. A few courthouses also house offices of the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder, which will also be unaffected. These non-court operations see thousands of customers per day and employ hundreds of people.

–Clerk’s offices, juror services and nearly all courtrooms will be shut down. Drop boxes will be in place to serve customers wishing to file court papers. –Judges will work, beginning today, on adjusting their calendars to postpone or move all scheduled court dates on affected Wednesdays for the entire fiscal year.

–A few designated courtrooms will also be available to handle emergency matters. –The limited number of employees required to work on closure days will be furloughed on other days.

–Supplementing these steps, the Court has imposed a so-called system-wide “hard”—or mandatory—hiring freeze.

–The Court will make $16 million in other ongoing expenditure reductions, largely by cutting services and supplies, restricting travel and other means.

Today’s announcement responds to a fiscal analysis that projects Court deficits in Los Angeles to total $89.9 million in FY 2009-10, rising to $118.3 million in FY 2012-13. These shortfalls amount to about 10 percent of the Court’s operating budget of more than $900 million per year.

Because nearly half of the Court’s funding is for specific statutory purposes, discretion in how and where to make cuts is very limited. Nearly 86 percent of the Court budget is for personnel. If the current situation remains unchanged, by the end of FY 2012-13, as many as 1,300 jobs—or 25 percent of the workforce—could be eliminated. Should that occur, entire courthouses would have to be closed and Court services massively scaled back.

McCoy emphasized, however, that no specific decisions about facility closures have been made—either in terms of timing or when such shutdowns might occur. Such drastic steps are unlikely to become necessary in FY 2009-10, but could have to be addressed as soon as sometime in late FY 2010-11 or early in the following fiscal year.

Although the Court anticipates beginning the 2009-2010 fiscal year with as much as $90 million in reserves, the overall fiscal plan must spread use of this money over an expected four-year crisis period. Depleting the surplus quickly might avert some immediate effects of the crisis, but future years would see even more dire cuts. The bulk of the reserve balance will, however, be utilized in the first two years in an effort to limit adverse impacts on the court system beyond those presently contemplated and, at the end of two years, leaving the court with a small annual balance and a far more adverse situation likely ahead.

Additional details of the closure plan will be posted on Court’s Web site, www.lasuperiorcourt.org. This information will be updated continuously. Customers should continue to check the Web site regularly for new postings.
###

OP Ed Begins Here: I must say that this is a very bad situation. The Los Angeles Superior Court is the largest and most complex Court system in the nation. This could be the beginning of some very bad times if things do not change fast. One day a month does not sound like much, but as a California Attorney, I can tell you that this will delay cases for significant amounts of time, especially civil cases. I hope a solution can be found to this soon!

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.

 

14 Responses to Los Angeles County Superior Court to Close one Day Per Month!

  1. I think that your Governor is a Democrat in truth. The man is not fiscally responsible at all. The illegals cost California a ton of money.Something must be done to stop the costs to a state that is so full of illegals….it is just not fair to the taxpayers who are the ones who pay.

  2. Sandie you are unbelievable. You are so much in denial. Democrats in all face honey have compassion for the poor, disabled and elderly. It is your damn republican rich spoiled no good politicians that are destroying the very fiber of the state. If the governor would have terminated all people on AFDC, SSI, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal, IHSS as well enforce the law that has been forever on the books for the illegals to pay for their childrens public education since they and their children are illegal to be in this country and completely take away the benefits they are getting as non-citizens, the budget would be set right. You have working poor that cannot even get medi-cal without getting a share of cost yet you get some sorry as illegal coming here and get full benefits like they worked for them. How fair do you think that is. I feel bad for the immigrants who come here legally to enjoy the American dream only for their illegal counterparts to get more. This is the reason why there is no real incentive for the illegals to get legal because they get so much more being illegal. I know because I work in the county government and I unfortunately see it personally every day. It sickens me.

  3. I have compassion for anyone who enters the US legally. I am tired of the ones who are criminals by coming in illegally. California has the most illegals in the USA. I will stick by my comment that THE ARNOLD is a very bad Governor. I feel for the folks in California….you are taxed no matter which way you turn. I think the courts are a place where there should not be any cutbacks. THE ARNOLD IS NOT FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE!!!!!

  4. I agree that Arnold is a bad governor and I totally disagree that cutting back on essential governmental services, such as closing the Los Angeles Superior Court for 1 day a month, will not balance our budget any quicker. The closure will choke an already sluggish court system and further bog down our economy.

  5. I have worked inside the California Court system for 25 years and have never seen times as bad as these with the potential for worsening ahead. The public does not fully realize that reductions in court services rips away at the very fabric of our society. Our Justice System is a model for the world. This budget crisis is very serious and the resulting internal and external changes that the California Court System is going to have make to survive will have far reaching implications.

  6. I belive that all this cuts and people getting laid off from county jobs and goverment jobs, has to do alot with COUNTY EMPLOYEES STEALING FROM TAX PAYERS MONEY.And from corrupted agencys for example CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES AND CHILD SUPPORT they focus and spend all their budget on court cases trying to accuse parents of having 9 nipples,3 legs and have sex with trees! and dont matter what the truth is they spend all their budget trying to prove this things in court. as well as stealing from tax payers and from their own agencys Child protective services are just corrupted and liars,and child support are corrupted and spend 10 dollars to collect 1 dollar hahahahahahaha tell me how ironic that is

  7. California can not be saved. Remember that Arnold won because everyone thought Gray Davis was such a bad governor? There can never be a “good” governor of CA because you have good hard working people getting robbed by the state and illegals/lazy people never receiving enough. One of the two groups is always going to be mad. The CA system is surely going to fail. 100 can not live off of the success of 1. The 1 will just move to a state where they’re not financially responsible for the 100.

  8. Sandie our State sales tax is 9.75% right now. Imagine we are being taxed 10% for everything we buy. How are we supposed to recover economically if 10 cents is being taken from each dollar we spend? We are screwed.

    Norm

    • I do not think our Founding Fathers ever intended for anyone to be taxed nearly 10% on everything they buy! That should be illegal! We are at 7% sales tax in Indian River County, Florida & Brevard County, Florida is at 6%. I do not think anybodies taxes should be increased in this economy.
      Gasoline is at $2.51 a gallon at this time. Hopefully it will stay there or go lower.
      I am glad to see the Judicial System is back on 5 day work weeks in California. It is sorry when the Court System has to close due to lack of funds.

  9. It was a stupid measure i think.
    Good choice that they changed their minds.
    The court system must working even in periods of crisis.

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