California Courts Win Budget Boost

California’s cash-strapped court system will get $63 million restored from May’s initial budget revision by Gov. Jerry Brown.  The compromise proposal issued Tuesday between Brown and the Legislature’s Democratic leaders keeps the judiciary’s budget at $1.2 billion, down by over 25 percent over the last five years.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye called it a good first step, but she’s been dealing with cuts that have hacked the judiciary’s entire budget to the point courthouses have been closed, hours limited and employees furloughed.

She had asked for the state to restore $100 million to the courts, the largest judicial system in the U.S.

The judges have confronted a very suspicious Legislature, angered by the Administrative Office of the Court’s expenditure of $500 million on a statewide court computer system that had to be abandoned as unworkable.

The Assembly Budget Committee wants “accountability” in the courts’ spending, including a 1% cap on trial court reserves and open meetings of the Judicial Council, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Meanwhile, the state’s courts have face continuing the existing closures, reduced public hours and employee furloughs.  The state has 2,000 judicial officers, 19,000 employees and handles 10 million cases a year.