Court Closures Not To Effect Santa Clarita Divorce Cases

Court Closures Not To Effect Santa Clarita Divorce Cases

The Los Angeles Superior Court System announced on November 14th, 2012 that there would be an additional 10 courthouses that will face closure.  Non of the closures will effect our Santa Clarita divorce cases as the court closures do not impact family law courtrooms.

I have included the original announcment below.

Lawyers will find it hard to move personal injury cases along, Consumer Attorneys President-elect Brian Kabateck said after being briefed on the court’s plans, which include directing most PI cases into just two master calendar courtrooms.

Los Angeles County Superior Court will stop hearing cases in 10 courthouses, shutter a dozen criminal courtrooms and cram many personal injury cases on to just two calendars, court leaders told a select gathering of lawyers in a meeting Wednesday.

Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the court is launching a major restructuring in the coming months to prepare for a 2013-14 deficit that could reach $80 million.

The targeted courthouses are in Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles (Kenyon Juvenile), Beverly Hills, San Pedro (the main courthouse and Beacon Street annex) and Catalina. Edmon said the courthouses may stay open for limited functions, like court filings or settlement meetings. But trials and hearings once held in those locations will be moved elsewhere, she said.

“The difficulty I have with all of this is our court system was designed to be a neighborhood court system,” Edmon said. “Unfortunately our budget has been cut so much that we’re not going to be able to continue that level of service.”

The closures and consolidating will lead to “a large number of additional layoffs,” she said, although the exact figure and timing of those job losses hasn’t been determined yet.

The large-scale closures come in response to four straight years of steep budget cuts and to Governor Jerry Brown’s directive that trial courts spend down almost all of their local reserves starting in 2013-14. Los Angeles County Superior Court has lost 875 positions over the past four years due to layoffs, attrition and elimination of vacant jobs, Edmon said.

As part of the court’s redesign, many personal injury cases will be sent to just two master calendar courtrooms in a single location to sort out all pretrial or settlement matters. Each of those judges is expected to have as many as 8,000 cases under his or her jurisdiction at any one time.

“If you have a matter that has to be heard … there’s just not going to be the resources to quickly and adequately handle these matters,” said Consumer Attorneys of California President-elect Brian Kabateck, who attended the Wednesday morning briefing.

Court leaders and lawyers are still discussing ways to send complex or catastrophic civil cases to so-called independent courts that set their own calendars. No one is sure how those cases will be identified, however.

Lawyers “think all of our cases are catastrophic,” Kabateck said.

Plans also call for shrinking the number of courthouses that hear specific types of cases. Small claims cases, now heard in 26 courtrooms, will be handled in just six court facilities across the county. Courthouses that handle landlord-tenant disputes will drop from 26 to five. The 24 courthouses that hear collections cases will shrink to just two. The court will also eliminate any remaining reporters in civil cases and reduce the number of courtroom assistants, Edmon said.

The planned closures and consolidations will affect 37 judicial officers and 279 court employees who handled 429,085 filings in the last fiscal year, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Reassigned judges will be given work that they can do without courtroom staff, Edmon said.

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