Courts are looking at a $200 million cut over the next two years
by Brian Leubitz
Justice is a funny thing. It is hard to define, and everybody has a slightly different concept of what they mean when they use the word. Generally, to me it means the swift administration of our system of laws. That is important for criminal defendants, victims, and to the many civil litigants who rely on a functioning court system. That is why these numbers are very worrying:
The Judicial Council notes that as of October, six out of 10 counties in California have had to reduce hours, close offices or courtrooms, even as it calculates the state needs 264 more judges to handle the state’s growing caseload. (LAT)
Criminal caseloads aren’t growing in any marked way, but civil litigation does tend to pick up in a time of economic distress. That being said, with a growing economy, we need a court system that can stand ready to handle the needs of businesses in the eight largest economy in the world.
Governor Brown is looking for ways to help the courts, suggesting new court fees. But with a pending cut of $200million for 2014-2015, times will be tough. Lines for services are already worringly long in most counties, and a further cut makes planning for growth unlikely.
The judiciary holds an interesting position in the state government. After all, it is supposed to be a co-equal branch of government, yet funding levels have put the courts in a tenuous and vulnerable position. Though there are many very important competing interests in the budget game, can we really afford to overlook our courts?