California chief justice warns budget cuts are threatening court system
The chief justice of the state Supreme Court warned Monday that another possible round of budget cuts threatens to continue the shuttering of courtrooms, depriving Californians of access to their judicial system.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said the judicial system’s budget has been cut by 30% in the last four years and faces the potential loss of an additional $125 million next year if a tax measure on the November ballot fails.
"Since 2008, the judicial branch budget has seen an unprecedented cut in its ability to function, struggling mightily to provide justice for all," Cantil-Sakauye said at a news conference on the Capitol steps. "We’re seeing closed signs in courtrooms up and down the state."
Cantil-Sakauye cited the case of a Sacramento father who saw his wife disappear out of state with their son after his child custody case was delayed because of court cutbacks.
The chief justice was joined by state lawmakers and leaders of the California and American bar associations who called on the Legislature to restore funding to the court system.
Jon Streeter, president of the California Bar Assn., called the cuts to the court budgets "draconian" and said they have impaired the courts' ability to serve the public "to such an extent that the rule of law itself is in peril."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times