Responding to California's deepening financial crisis hitting city and state governments, L.A.'s Superior Courts will close on the third Wednesday of each month, beginning July 15. The move, announced today by Presiding Judge Charles "Tim" McCoy, is expected to save $18 million during the next fiscal year. However, McCoy warned at a media conference held this afternoon at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, a worsening economy could necessitate the closure of entire courthouses and the layoff of one-quarter of the court system's 5,400 employees. (The few courthouses that are also home to Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder offices will not be affected by the closures.)
L.A.'s Superior Court system operates 50 facilities encompassing 600 courtrooms that handle everything from disputed traffic tickets to capital murder cases. Generally, Superior Courtrooms operate four days a week, with judges
typically reserving a Friday to catch up on paper work and other
activities. The system plans to save another $16 through expenditure cuts by limiting travel, along with services and supplies.
The county's courts will be staring at a budget hole of about $90
million in the next fiscal year. This is nearly twice the amount of the
last budget crisis' shortfall, a 2002 gap that resulted in the
shutting down of 29 courtrooms and dismissal of more than 150 employees.
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Today McCoy conceded that even if all the state measures that are on today's
election ballot pass, they will not obviate the need for such closures --
and according to polls, most of those revenue initiatives were trailing
among voters interviewed.