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On The Money: Budget Cuts Coming To Trial Courts

Local Judges Criticize Court Administrators for Excessive Spending
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Budget cuts could create long lines and reduced hours for trial courts across California. San Francisco is already looking to close 25 courts and lay off hundreds of people. But judges who talked to CBS 13 today are fighting back against the cuts – and they are blaming the bureaucrats in San Francisco – the Administrative Office of the Courts.

“Currently there can be wait lines in family law up to five hours,” said Maryanne Gilliard, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge. And those lines could get even worse, Judge Gilliard told CBS 13 – if Sacramento loses a projected $5 million in funding this year – and even more next year.

Sacramento trial courts have already lost nearly 200 staffers, while the numbers have grown at the Administrative Office of the Courts – the bureaucrats who run the court system from San Francisco.

“A very, very sharp knife needs to be taken to the central bureaucracy in San Francisco,” Judge Gilliard told CBS13.

In previous reports, On The Money documented how the court computer system is years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

Trial court judges who spoke with CBS 13 openly questioned if the extra spending would force local courthouses to close their doors – or restrict their hours.

“And the lines that are already far too long in our judicial system are just going to get longer,” said Kevin McCormick, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge.

And that raises concerns for those use the courts on a regular basis.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Jon Lippsmeyer, a defense attorney in Sacramento.

The cuts are part of the budget deal signed by Governor Brown and the legislature – and they include a $13 million reduction to the Administrative Office of the Courts, the AOC told CBS 13. The cuts will also affect trial courts and the California Supreme Court.

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