Criminal Cases Would Be Less Affected by S.F. Court Layoffs

California's oft-discussed governmental dysfunction is starting to take its toll. Public access to our state's natural resources is already on the chopping block; on Friday, more ominous news arrived about public access to justice. In light of the budget approved last week by the state Legislature, the San Francisco Superior Court system is planning to lay off 41 percent of its workforce, and close 25 of its 63 courtrooms.

Cuts to state funding for courts were promptly criticized by San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein. "We are not an emergency room that can turn away patients because we are at capacity," Feinstein said in a statement. "People want an orderly resolution to their disputes. If they can't achieve that outcome, then we will see more disorderly resolutions."

According to court spokeswoman Ann Donlan, the majority of those "disorderly resolutions" would affect people in civil -- not criminal -- courtrooms. That's because the courts are mandated by law to process criminal cases within set periods of time. (Which isn't to say that criminal cases don't sometimes drag on for no good reason.) "Clearly, the burden will fall more heavily on the civil departments," Donlan said. "Disputes are going to be protracted."

That's right: If you're looking to sue your neighbor for chopping down that charming cypress tree at the edge of the yard, or take an old boss to small-claims court, you might have to stand in line. The layoffs and courtroom closures would also affect more serious litigation, of course, including high-stakes, emotionally charged cases in the family courts.

While Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the budget approved by lawmakers, Donlan said the court system is still preparing for 200 layoffs in light of the uncertainty over funding. Layoff notices would be sent out in mid-July, taking effect in mid-September, she said. Last year, scheduled layoffs of 122 employees were halted at the last minute by a deal that allowed more cash to flow to the state courts.

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For starters, they could allow filing by fax.

If Feinstein wanted "order" in her court she would get serious about where she decides to allocate millions in HHS grants which incite the very "disorderly" family court outcomes at the expense of the tax paying parents she speaks of.  Perhaps the superior court should consider cutting the therapeutic jurisprudence from the budget to [possible] slush funds like Kids'Turn.  I am sure you see no connection to the PAS crapola, but PAS thrives on delays and "mistakes" which then require multiple federally funded experts to "solve."

The Court's officers have no trouble supplementing their own income with $364 biweekly in "fringe benefits" from the county, which were BTW, may have been outlawed 2 years ago.

The court's officers have no trouble beefing up their "resumes(?)" with appointments to nonprofits and school boards which provide mental health and legal services to the litigants who appear before them.

The county budget reflects that $70,000 was spent on the Child Support Directors Association "membership" and 42 trainings for the DCSS staff. Who gives these trainings?

DCSS commissioner Rebecca Wightman and DCSS attorneys.

And what exactly are clerks supposed to do when faced with aiding corruption or losing their jobs?

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