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San Diego Court Facing Unprecedented Budget Cuts

  
  
  

The San Diego County Superior Court estimates it may lay off more than 250 court employees and close or restructure more than 40 courtrooms during the next two fiscal years.

In an announcement issued by the court today, the court estimates it will have to cut $14 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The court is predicting total cuts for fiscal year 2014-2014 could rise to $40 million or more.

 

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"The cuts envisioned by our budget reduction plan will affect every judge, court employee and ultimately the litigants, court users and citizens in San Diego County," said Presiding Judge Robert J. Trentacosta. "These cuts will significantly reduce or eliminate access to our court system and are devastating to those of us who have worked so hard to convince the Governor and Legislature that such cuts threaten the stability of our third branch of government."

The San Diego County Superior Court outlined the following cuts to begin July 1, 2012:

  • Elimination of certain types of workers, such as student workers, retired rehires, law clerks, retired commissioners and paid juvenile court pro tem hearing officers;
  • Significant reduction of management employees and restructuring of administration and administrative services;
  • Reductions in non-courtroom staff (75 positions);
  • Closure of business offices to the public at noon on Fridays;
  • Closure and restructuring of 10 courtrooms leading to the elimination of 18 positions, including closing down six downtown criminal courtrooms and the Ramona Branch Court.

The court also said it is likely to eliminate court-provided court reporters for civil courtrooms at some point during the fiscal year.

The court anticipates deeper cuts for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, including:

  • Closure and restructuring of 30 additional courtrooms, resulting in the elimination of 25 clerks, two court reporters, five calendar clerks, seven staff attorneys and 21 court commissioners;
  • Reductions in Family Court courtroom and support department operations;
  • Elimination of 11 independent calendar clerk positions supporting the civil independent calendar departments;
  • Additional reductions of non-courtroom staff (17 positions);
  • Centralization of all filing and processing related to small claims into the Central Division;
  • Closure of all civil business office operations in East and South County;
  • Two days of unpaid work furlough per month for all court employees beginning July of 2013. 

"The impact of these recommended reductions on the San Diego Superior Court will fundamentally alter the way in which the court does business," added Judge Trentacosta.

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