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Brown's budget won't forestall court closures, chief justice says

January 10, 2013 |  2:17 pm

Cantil
California courts will continue to face closures and reduced hours in the coming year under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, California’s chief justice said Thursday.

In a telephone conference with reporters, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said Brown’s proposed spending plan fails to restore hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts that are forcing court closures in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Fresno counties.

“Nothing about this court budget fixes or ameliorates” the loss of service to the public, Cantil-Sakauye said.

The state's top jurist said she was relieved that the proposed budget did not call for further cuts for trial court operations but noted the proposal “has an incredibly negative long-term impact” on the judicial branch’s ability to replace dilapidated and potentially unsafe courthouses around the state.

“This budget doesn’t answer our problems and our challenges,” she said. She said she and other court leaders would work to restore court funding.

Other legal leaders around the state also expressed disappointment with the court’s budget. Brian Kabateck, president of Consumer Attorneys of California, said the court system was still reeling from past cutbacks.

“At first blush the governor’s new budget appears to maintain the status quo,” Kabateck said. “Unfortunately, with the courts absorbing more than $1 billion in cuts over the past five years, the status quo isn’t acceptable. The status quo has been a disaster.”

Kabateck noted that Los Angeles County has been forced to close 10 courthouses and cut operations, creating long lines for service and slowing the pace of justice.

“The old axiom is: Justice delayed is justice denied,” Kabateck said. “Well, lately there has been a lot of justice being denied all over the state.”

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-- Maura Dolan

Photo: Chief Justice Tani Cantil–Sakauye in January 2012. Credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times

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