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Top judge stresses hunt for savings while seeking new funding

Top judge stresses hunt for savings while seeking new funding
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, pictured here in the Capitol last year, asked lawmakers for more money for the judiciary on Monday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California's court system was battered by funding cuts during the recession, but it's also faced stinging criticism from lawmakers and auditors for failing to crack down on loose spending.

So when Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye spoke to the Legislature on Monday, she was careful to emphasize all the ways the judiciary is trying to do more with less.

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Instead of issuing a blanket call for additional funding, she said the courts "must accelerate our search for innovations and efficiencies."

Of course, that doesn't mean Cantil-Sakauye didn't urge lawmakers to include more money. She talked about reduced hours, furloughed workers and closed courtrooms.

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Even though some money has returned as the state's budget has bounced back, "it's not enough," she said. "We fall short."

Courts would receive a $182-million funding increase under Gov. Jerry Brown's latest budget proposal.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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