New California budget fails to ease court woes, chief justice says

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said the new state budget signed Friday falls short of relieving problems in California’s court system.
(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said Friday the new state budget will mean “more disappointment, service reduction and delay for those who need our courts.”

The budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown contains less than half the money Cantil-Sakauye said would be needed for trial courts “just to tread water” after years of courthouse closures, layoffs and other cutbacks.

Though Brown and the Legislature raised spending from last year’s appropriation,  the chief justice said it was “not enough to provide timely, meaningful justice to the public.”

The court system has been cut by more than $1 billion in the last several years,  forcing the closure of 51 courthouses and more than 200 courtrooms. The cuts have created long, snaking lines at clerk windows, delays in resolution of cases and trial dates, and sent court fees skyrocketing.


Court employees are still being furloughed, and services to the public have been slashed.  Court users have reported waits of as many as eight hours at clerk windows, and closures have forced some residents to drive several hours to get to the nearest open courthouse.

The crisis prompted judges from throughout the state, bar associates and litigants to travel to Sacramento this year to implore lawmakers for more money.

Cantil-Sakauye thanked them for their efforts and pledged to continue to try to restore funding.  She also said she was grateful that Brown and the Legislature had added funds for specific court programs and were helping to solve the long term effect of employee benefit costs.

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