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You Know a Court is Stretched When the PJ is Hosting Settlement Talks


The Riverside County Superior Court announced it will have "PJ Settlement Days" in an effort to reduce the Court's growing civil case backlog.

According to the Court's announcement, Presiding Judge Sherrill Ellsworth will help settle civil cases at the Historic Courthouse immediately before trial. The program is set to begin January 27, 2012. The Court says that during a typical Friday morning trial calendar, litigants in more than 20 civil cases tell Supervising Civil Judge Mac Fisher that they are ready to start trial.

The problem is that there is rarely an open courtroom for each case due to the continuing shortage of judicial officers in Riverside. According to the Judicial Council, 150 judges are needed to meet the current caseload, but only 76 are available. Adding to an already stretched court, the state is decreasing the Riverside County Superior Court's funding by $10.6 million in fiscal year 2011-2012.

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                    No...Not That Kind of PJ Day! Photo Credit: Margoian

During every Friday morning trial calendar, Judge Fisher encourages each litigant to find "a glimmer of hope" for settlement with the help of a mediator. But, some complex civil cases need the special attention that only a presiding judge can provide, so Presiding Judge Sherrill Ellsworth has decided to carve out time to help settle complicated civil cases that would otherwise require many days in the courtroom before a judge or jury.

Says the Court: "Judge Ellsworth's 'PJ Settlement Days' will help litigants in these cases avoid the time, expense and stress of lengthy trials while achieving more satisfying resolutions to their disputes, saving Riverside County courtrooms for cases that truly need a judge or jury to determine the outcome."


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