Gov. Brown’s latest spending plan gives California courts a slight boost from the January version, but falls well short of restoring the drastic cuts that have hit the system over the last half-decade. The San Jose Mercury-News break it down as “… [the increase is] from last year’s $3.29 billion to about $3.47 billion, with most of that increase headed to the 58 trial courts around California hit hardest by past cutbacks. Courts in counties across the state, including Bay Area systems in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, have been forced to reduce public hours, lay off employees and shutter remote courthouses as a result of prior cuts that at one point exceeded $1 billion over several years.”
A new report released by a coalition of legal aid groups in California is the latest documentation of how local governments’ quest for traffic-ticket funds has skewed the judicial landscape. The Los Angeles Times notes that the report “… comes a month after the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issued its report on Ferguson, Mo., which criticized similar practices for their disparate effect on low-income and largely minority populations.”
The report says that “… traffic-court fines layered with escalating fees and penalties have led to driver’s license suspensions for 4.2 million Californians — or one in six drivers — pushing many low-income people deeper into poverty…”
“As in Ferguson,” the California report noted, “these policies disproportionately impact people of color, beginning with who gets pulled over in the first place.” Reformers are calling for, among other things, an end to license suspensions for unpaid tickets and a reduction in fees and penalties.
Read the LAT story here.