California's Court Leaders Finally Acknowledge Local Courts Are in Critical Shape
SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover issued the following statement in response to a report from the Judicial Council that recognizes the need for action to protect Los Angeles courts from devastating cuts. "The level of reductions facing LA Superior Court, like all other courts in the state, is staggering," the report stated. The report called for "funding solutions" including transferring money from court construction projects.
"A short time ago California's court leaders accused the Los Angeles Superior Court of being Chicken Little when it warned of major cuts to the judicial system. Now the Judicial Council and its administrative arm, the Administrative Office of the Courts, have finally acknowledged that the Los Angeles Superior Court and very likely other courts around the state are in dire straits."
"If this acknowledgment had come two months ago, we might have been able to prevent 329 layoffs and court closures that are causing justice in Los Angeles to deteriorate. L.A. Superior Court Judge McCoy has been raising the alarm for months and requested bridge funding in February.
"Now, the AOC and the L.A. court both acknowledge that the situation is critical. If Los Angeles loses 23% of its staff over the next three years, it's going to affect 100,000 people who use the courts every day. The L.A. court projects those losses to be at 30%, based on real salary numbers rather than on the average numbers the AOC uses.
"But however you look at the numbers, the problem is indeed 'staggering' and it's not going away. The AOC now concedes that every possible step must be taken, including using construction funds, to keep courts open for the public across California. This is what SEIU, law enforcement officers, children's advocates, and local judges have spent the last 6 months fighting for.
"We hope California court leaders look not just at one-time fixes but ongoing and comprehensive solutions to our courts' financial crisis. "
"And we hope they move immediately to embrace the oversight and accountability that could have delivered independent analysis and action much more swiftly. That's why we are supporting a bill, AB 2521, that will require a truly independent look at both local courts' and the AOC's books."