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Calif. Courtrooms Closing on Budget Cuts: Will Yours Close Next?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 21, 2011 6:47 AM

In California, court budget cuts have become a grim reality.

San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein has announced some very bad news - around 40% of the court's staff will be laid off, accounting for more than 200 employees.

And, around 25 courtrooms will be closed, reports the Courthouse News Service.

The cuts came after announcement by the California Legislature approving of a new $150 million budget cut for the court system. The new cuts were on top of $200 million in cuts that had already been in place, according to the Courthouse News Service.

"This budget is an insurmountable challenge for justice. In one day, the court's deficit increased from $8.03 million to $13.75 million," said Judge Feinstein to the Courthouse News Service.

The California budget crunch has already brought a huge strain on the justice system in San Francisco. Not only is there a hiring freeze which has been in place since 2009, but the courts have closed at noon on Fridays since January, and employees are required to take a furlough day one Friday a month, reports the Courthouse News Service.

With such a huge cut coming the way of San Francisco courthouses, the administration of justice seems very likely to suffer - and attorneys may soon have to deal with frustrated clients and long delays in trials. Plaintiffs and defendants will likely have to wait an even longer time for their cases to be resolved, and motions and trials may end up being calendared out for some date far in the future.

Will your courthouse face a similar budget cut? It very well could. Budget cuts have affected courthouses in nearly 2/3 of the states in the U.S., and in some jurisdictions, entire courthouses have closed - not just courtrooms.

In California, however, there is still a chance that Governor Jerry Brown will veto the budget. Though it seems for most courts, budget cuts are the new reality.

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