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There will be fewer Los Angeles courtrooms operating next month as the state copes with its budget deficit.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a total of 17 courtrooms countywide are being closed over the next six months. The state is facing a $79 million budget shortfall. As a result, this will mean massive layoffs and service reductions. About 329 people are expected to get layoff notices.
In addition, another 500 courtroom personnel including court clerks, telephone operators, translators and other workers could be laid off by the end of June. All employees hired after a certain date in 2009 will all be laid off, officials said.
The Los Angeles Superior Court is the country's largest trial court system, with 600 courtrooms in 50 courthouses throughout the county.
The Superior Court system implemented once-monthly furlough days last summer. The move was an effort to save $18 million a year.
The courtroom closures however, will undoubtedly impact judges and their caseloads.
If judges in the criminal courts cannot handle increased case loads, civil court judges will mostly likely have to step in and preside over criminal trials.
But defendants in criminal cases probably won't experience much of a delay because of their right to a speedy trial.
On the other hand, child support orders and custody decisions could be delayed for months. Family law courts are likely to experience a backlog. Civil and probate will probably be delayed too.
Currently, officials are investigating on how to best handle the situation. State lawmakers are also asking that the money to build new courthouses and upgrade computer systems be redirected to save jobs instead.
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