The budget cuts to California’s trial courts are dire. The revised May budget released by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday cut $544 million more from the judicial branch, which has already seen $653 million cut in the last four years.
Before the significant cuts began, the courts budget was roughly $3 billion annually.
“The proposed cuts to the judicial branch are both devastating and disheartening,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
The budget cuts “will be difficult, if not impossible, for the branch to absorb,” she warned.
The cuts may mean delays in hearing certain types of civil cases, limits on the days of court operations in some counties and layoffs of employees around the state.
The Judicial Council, the administrative governing body for the courts, will meet in a special session Thursday, between 11am and 3pm in Sacramento, to assess the future of a variety of programs, services, employees and court construction projects. A live audio case is available here.
“The situation is dire and getting worse,” said Jon Streeter, president of the State Bar of California.
“Trial courts have take four straight years of cutbacks – we simply cannot sustain another year of cuts without erosion of our ability to provide timely and full access to the public,” said Judge David Rosenberg, chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Executive Committee and a judge in Yolo County.