Orange County Courts to Shut Doors Once a Month
September 17, 2009
In Southern California, and throughout Orange County, courthouse doors were closed yesterday as part of the State Judiciary's plan to close the courts once a month addressing the California state budget crisis. This week marks the start of the court closure--to be done the third Wednesday of every month.
Announced in July, the California Judicial Council decided that closing the largest court system in the country once a month would be among the best ways to address the Judiciary's budget cut of $414 million, that came from this year's $26 billion state budget crisis.
As California Employment Lawyers, we have been following the Judicial Council's decision carefully, as these closings could result in delays of trials and proceedings. According to the council's decision, legal matters will be rescheduled for newly assigned dates, and court closure dates will be classified as official court holidays, for the purpose of calculating state court deadlines. Case filing deadlines will also be pushed back for one day.
The Judicial Council is the constitutionally created body that administers California's court system. Created in the 1920's to make government more efficient, the Council's mission today is to promise the public consistent, impartial, and accessible state justice.
In an article in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, California Chief Justice and Chairman of the State Judicial Council Ronald M. George commented that closing courthouses once a month can slow down the judicial system--with approximately 3 million case delays, 150 trial interruptions, and 250 child custody cases left unheard.
To George, closing California courthouses represents yet another tragedy in the state's economic crisis. George stated that the mission of the Judicial Council is to protect access to justice for the people, so it was a difficult decision to make. George claims that although the decision was taken with great reluctance, court closure was the only rational option in helping to avoid massive layoffs, protect experienced court employees, maintain consistency of court services for the lawyers and public, and preserve "equal access to justice."
According to the Judicial Council, closures are expected to total about $94 million in savings. Legal closures will affect each of the California Superior Courts in 58 counties, as well as the California Supreme Court, and the six regional appeals courts. These courts will be closed once a month for the next ten months until the end of the fiscal year in June 2010. This is the first closure of court access in California's history.
California Courts To Close Once A Month, KSWT.com, September 15, 2009
Monthly Court Closures Start Wednesday, The Desert Sun, September 15, 2009
Full Text of Chief Justice George's State of the Judiciary Address, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, September 14, 2009
Judge Speaks Out on Budget Related Court Closures, SFAppeal.com, September 14, 2009
In California, Justice Takes a Day Off, Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2009
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Decries Forced Court Closures, SDNN.com, September 13, 2009
CA Courts Have First Budget Related Closure This Wednesday, The Alley.com, September 13, 2009
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