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California Budget Cuts Scare Courts, Could Result in More Layoffs

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 17, 2011 4:14 PM

Wednesday's proposed California budget cuts didn't get a warm welcome from the newly appointed Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye called the massive California budget cuts a "blow against justice," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The budget cuts were pushed through the California legislature earlier this week. Reports are now saying that California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the proposed budget, but courts aren't breathing sighs of relief just yet.

The changes to the budget would be drastic — and provide for major reductions to the budget of the state’s judiciary system.

According to Courthouse News, the budget cuts, as passed on Wednesday, slashed $150 million from the state’s court money, prompting Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein to announce the closure of 25 courtrooms and the layoffs of two-hundred employees from the California Superior Courts.

This would pose a huge problem for California courts, as the shortage of workers was not a recent phenomenon. Backlogs in the court were not new, reports Courthouse News, stacks of work lay unprocessed due to the short-staffed courts. The California Supreme Court has been on a hiring freeze since 2009 and the doors have closed at noon on Fridays this year, in an attempt to spare on costs.

These two judges aren’t the only ones criticizing the budget cuts. The Alliance of California Judges and the California Judges Association have also reportedly shown criticism of the decision.

While Governor Brown did veto the budget, Courthouse News writes that Judge Feinstein’s tone was nevertheless bleak, as she predicted more problems for the courts.

“We are not an emergency room that can turn away patients because we are at capacity.”

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