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L.A. County court officials expect more drastic cuts

The front plaza of the Los Angeles County Superior Court building.

Officials at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where more than 150 employees were laid off Friday, expect to make more drastic cuts in the next fiscal year.

Court officials, already reeling from $30 million in cuts, predicted that shrinking state funding would force them to slash tens of millions of dollars more.

“It is an undermining of the justice system,” Los Angeles County Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon said during a news conference Friday.

In addition to the layoffs, dozens of employees will become part-time workers and have their pay slashed by 40%. Others will be bumped to lower-paying full-time jobs. The court has also shuttered courtrooms, pared back the use of court reporters and wiped out a juvenile court program.

Edmon predicted that the cuts would gum up the nation’s largest trial court system, potentially stretching out civil cases for years.

“Could we be heading to five years to trial? I think we could,” Edmon said.

Still, with most state services taking a financial hit in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, Edmon couldn’t point to what should be slashed instead of the judicial system.

“I will confess that I’m glad I’m not a legislator right now," she said, "because they’re being forced to make very difficult decisions."

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-- Ashley Powers

Photo: The front plaza of the Los Angeles County Superior Court building. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

 
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