Citing the spiraling costs associated with the O.J. Simpson trial, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ask the state to help pay for that case and other high-profile court cases.
"Because these cases are tried under state laws which we have no control over in the county, the state should bear their costs," argued Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who sponsored the motion.
It urges approval of state legislation requiring that counties be reimbursed for costly trials. The Simpson case has so far cost the county nearly $1.8 million, and Sheriff Sherman Block has advised the board that his department alone will need to spend nearly $1.6 million more over the next five months for security on the trial.
The escalating costs of the case come as the cash-strapped county is poised to undergo service cutbacks and layoffs to close a huge budget deficit.
Antonovich aide Steven Herbert said the supervisors will raise the issue during a meeting next week with the county's legislative delegation, and that at least one lawmaker has already indicated a willingness to sponsor legislation.
Antonovich said there also is precedent for state action: In the 1970s, the state picked up the tab in the trial of the men accused of kidnaping a school bus full of children in the Madera County town of Chowchilla, he said.