New Court Fees May Fill Budget Gap

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Court fees may be on the rise.  The severe budget cuts to California’s state courts prompted the Judicial council to vote Friday to consider recommending that the Legislature impose new statewide fees or increases to existing fees.  The state judiciary has been hit with a $350 million budget reduction for the fiscal year beginning in October (2011-2012).

In addition, the council voted as its top priority to seek restoration of some of the cuts.

The new fee suggestions are sure to generate controversy.  One proposal calls by the San Francisco Bar Association calls for allowing state trial courts to impose  a new fee for the appearance of each attorney at a case management conference in a complex civil case.

The council cannot impose the fee without the Legislature first enacting a fee statute.    

In some courts the cutbacks will be Draconian. The San Francisco County Superior Court, for example, has indicated it may cut 200 of its 460 court jobs to balance its budget in the wake of state cuts.

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