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L.A. Courts Facing Closures, More Layoffs PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 02:54

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Citing millions of dollars in state funding cuts, the presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court has announced that 56 courtrooms will be closed by the end of June, and about 100 non-courtroom staff members will be laid off.

Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon also said the court would stop providing court reporters for civil trials effective May 15, and will eliminate its Informal Juvenile Traffic Court program for minors who commit low-level offenses.

"This year, the state cuts are forcing us to reduce our spending by an additional $30 million, on top of the $70 million in reductions we have already made," Edmon said. "There will be as many as 350 dedicated, skilled court workers who will no longer be serving the residents of Los Angeles County. When we lose those people, we will no longer be able to shield the core work of the court – the courtroom – from the budget crisis."

The court plans to close 24 civil, 24 criminal, three family, one probate and four juvenile delinquency courts, with their caseloads being spread across remaining courts. Affected judges, commissioners or other judicial officers will be reassigned to fill vacancies, will share staff with other court officers or will handle settlement conferences.

Court reporters will be eliminated for civil trials, and they will be offered on a limited basis for civil law-and-motion matters.

Edmon noted that 329 people have already been laid off by the court over the past two years, and another 229 positions were lost through attrition.

More than 100 additional non-courtroom staffers are expected to be laid off by June 30.

"It saddens me to have to make these layoffs," Edmon said. "These actions are affecting people who have made a commitment to public service, to justice."

The court's IJTC program, which will also be cut, kept low-level minor offenders out of the delinquency system.

"These courts have allowed us to address tens of thousands of offenses in a more appropriate forum than delinquency court," according to Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley. "We are losing a crucial element of the juvenile justice system to lack of funding."