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Court Officials Decry Budget, Say Delays Will Continue

A Los Angeles County Superior Court official criticized California’s 2014-15 budget because the effects of past cuts are likely to continue, but court officials don’t expect additional cuts

A county court official criticized California’s 2014-15 budget in response to its recent approval by Gov. Jerry Brown. And while the effects of past cuts are likely to continue, additional cuts aren’t expected, an official said Monday. 

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The courts don’t anticipate any further reduction of service, a court official said Monday. However, the new spending plan won’t allow for the restoration of “painful” self-inflicted budget cuts the courts have undergone over the last few years, said Mary Hearn, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Related article: L.A. County Superior Court Lays Off 177 Employees

“Those were all very painful, but now we’re on solid footing,” Hearn said. “The amount allocated to the trial courts in the budget that was just signed won’t allow us to restore those cuts.”

The Los Angeles Superior Court was managing a structural budget deficit of $195 million in 2012-13, according to officials.

The court’s budget for 2014-15 is balanced, but the lengthy delays experienced by those using the court system over the last few years will continue.

Previous actions, including layoffs, hiring freezes, cuts in supplies and other cost-saving measures, reduced the court’s annual spending by $110 million in 2013, and consolidations that year cut spending nearly in half.

“The California courts have suffered five years of reductions in state funding, and many courts have reduced their workforces by as much as one-quarter, with no lessening of their statutory and constitutional obligations,” said presiding Judge David Wesley. “We are being forced to ration access to justice.

“People trying to do the right thing and pay a traffic ticket, find themselves stymied by long lines and antiquated technology,” Wesley said. “Crime victims, and the law enforcement officers acting as witnesses in their cases, are burdened with long travel times because the local courthouse was closed.”

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Court Officials Decry Budget, Say Delays Will Continue

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About Perry Smith

Perry Smith is a print and broadcast journalist who has won several awards for his focused, hyperlocal community coverage in several different regions of the country. In addition to five years of experience covering the Santa Clarita Valley, Smith, a San Fernando Valley native, has worked in newspapers and news websites in Los Angeles, the Northwest, the Central Valley and the South, before coming to KHTS in 2012. To contact Smith, email him at Perry@hometownstation.com.