Orange County Vows to Keep Courts Open Despite Crisis

From A Times Staff Writer

Orange County leaders vowed Friday to keep local courts operating even as they gear up to fight an anticipated court order to provide as much as $13.9 million that judges said is needed to avert a shutdown of some courtroom operations.

New budget numbers released by the county Friday indicate that only one of six courthouses has enough money in its salary and benefits fund to pay employees through the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The county’s top judges are scheduled to issue a court order early next week demanding that the Board of Supervisors provide the money. Their decision to issue an order came Thursday after court and county negotiators failed to agree on an emergency funding deal that would have kept the courts fully operational until June 30.


The county counsel’s office said Friday that it will challenge the order, likely moving the legal fight to a court outside Orange County. “We are prepared to litigate,” said James Meade, assistant county counsel.

The looming battle would mark one of the few times in state history that state judges and county government officials have gone to court over a funding dispute.