L.A. County cuts several courthouses [Google+ hangout]
Times reporter Matt Stevens will join city editor Shelby Grad at 1:30 p.m. for a Google+ hangout on Los Angeles County courthouse closures.
In a round of sweeping budget cuts, 10 county courthouses will be closed, including such landmark courthouses as Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu, Avalon, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona and San Pedro. The courthouses will continue to handle some administrative matters, such as ticket payments, but will no longer hear cases.
From Stevens and the Times' Andrew Blankstein's Wednesday article:
The cuts are expected to delay some trials, cause longer lines and result in more layoffs, but officials said it was the only option for closing a shortfall of $50 million to $80 million in the court budget.
The criminal and civil cases from those locations will be reassigned to courts that could be anywhere from seven to 35 miles away, leading to longer commutes for jurors, witnesses, litigants and law enforcement officials.
The closures are expected to occur over the next eight months.
"It's devastating to the court system, and it's going to be a sea change in how we do our business," said Lee Smalley Edmon, presiding judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. "Unfortunately, there are going to be longer lines in each of our courthouses and great delays throughout the system."
Officials said civil courts will be particularly hard hit, with many civil courtrooms operating with only one court clerk and without any full-time court reporters.
It's unclear how many court workers will lose their jobs. The Los Angeles County courts have already laid off hundreds of employees and left more positions unfilled, resulting in longer lines to file paperwork and cases that plod along at a snail's pace.