Rain was falling, and the budget picture is stormy. But nearly 250 LA County court employees represented by SEIU 721 gathered on Saturday, February 6.
They are working to keep courthouses open and prevent hundreds of layoffs that would lead to delayed justice for families, businesses and the public.
A report by the Superior Court estimates closing courts could lead to a $30 billion loss for California’s economy. LA has the nation’s busiest court system: 100,000 people enter courthouses daily, and courts issue 18,000 minute orders every day.
“You can imagine what the system will look like with fewer courthouses, fewer employees, but the same amount of work,” said Court Reporter Arnella Sims.
Employees heard a report about the LA court budget deficit and asked questions about what cuts will mean.
They also heard from John Clarke, the court’s chief administrator. He offered straight talk about the courts’ budget crisis, but also talked about how court employees, judges and administrators can work together for solutions. “We are both committed to access to justice, which means keeping the courts open. The judicial branch has to get serious about what its priorities are,” he said.
He called the deficit the “single greatest threat” that the justice system has ever faced.
Clarke said the first group of layoffs could come in April. Unless more funding is found for court operations, the courts could eventually lose 1/3 of their management and union staff.
Take Action Now to Keep Courts Open
Meet with Legislators: Email Marc Mitchell at email@example.com or call (213) 738-8423
“We’re the biggest criminal court building, we have the longest lines, the most criminal cases. We’re already understaffed.”
> Shallote Wright, CSA II at CCB
“If Inglewood Courthouse were closed, it would affect the local economy. The lines are already long, and defendants might have to spend extra time in jail.”
> Christine Hendon, Court Reporter, Inglewood
“I’m at the bottom of the pool, so I think it’s important to come to everything, volunteer to offer my help. I want to feel like I did everything I could to keep courts open.”
> Raul Ibarra, CSA II, Metro Juvenile Traffic
“Legislators are listening. They’re hearing that court closures affect everyone in the state.”
> Roy Pitluk, Court Reporter, Stanley Mosk