April 18, 2012

Chief Justice addresses the effects of judicial branch budget cuts at State Capitol

As discussed in this press release, the Chief Justice spoke on Monday regarding the adverse impact of recent judicial branch budget cuts on public access to justice in California. The Chief’s remarks came at a gathering on the steps of the State Capitol in advance of a Senate informational hearing concerning the issue. Others in attendance included Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), and David Boies and Ted Olson, co-chairs of the American Bar Association Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System. According to the press release, the Chief told the assembled crowd: “‘We in the judicial branch accept our responsibility to help address the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis. . . But we also are mindful of our duty to ensure that 38 million Californians are assured their rights under our constitution, that businesses and residents are provided lawful means to settle disputes, and that those accused of crimes are prosecuted fairly and expeditiously.”

The Senate hearing and the Chief’s remarks are particularly timely. The Los Angeles Times reports that the courts of Los Angeles County—the state’s most populous—“will slash another $30 million in the coming months by laying off workers, shuttering courtrooms and axing a juvenile court program.” The Times reports that, by the end of June, “the courts will have 350 fewer employees and 56 fewer courtrooms, which officials said will likely slow down the resolution of criminal, civil, family court and juvenile delinquency cases.” The Times quotes L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon as saying these further cuts would have the effect of “‘rationing justice,’” and that “‘[t]he public cannot tolerate any further major service reductions.’”

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