jurist defends monthly closures of state courts
SEPTEMBER 13, 2009 AT 2 A.M.
DIEGO — The top
jurist in California said yesterday that the state of the court system is
“challenging” as a result of the fiscal crisis and called on judges and
lawyers to work together to continue to reach solutions.
a speech to a joint meeting of the State Bar of California and the California
Judges Association, Chief Justice Ronald M. George also countered complaints
from some judges around the state about court closures and the growth in the
administrative agency that runs the sprawling system.
remarks came during the annual meeting of the State Bar this weekend, just
days before the first of monthly scheduled closings of state courts Wednesday.
closures, which will continue on the third Wednesday of each month through
June, mark the first time the entire branch is being shuttered. George said
the decision by the state Judicial Council to do so was not an easy one.
said that after months of examining other alternatives, the council determined
that closing courts was “the only rational option available to us to
adequately address budget realities” the court system faced.
trial court judges have complained that there was not enough discussion about
the closures and that cuts to other court programs were not adequately
rebutted critics who say the Administrative Office of the Courts, the staff
agency for the judiciary, has grown too fast and soaks up money.
said the agency, which has grown from 268 employees in 1998 to 887, consumes
just 5 percent of the judiciary budget. He said the growth has come since the
state took over court management from individual counties.