Groups Ask State Court To Block Courthouse Cutbacks

Groups opposing Los Angeles Superior Courts cutbacks have taken their cases to a state court after a federal court judge decided not to rule on their argument. They say the state-level effort is to cover their bases while planning an appeal on the federal dismissal. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin is quoting Maria Palomares, a lawyer working with the Neighborhood Legal Services organization, as explaining that, said the appeals court should act urgently to reverse the policy, implemented March 18, that would cram the county’s 70,000 annual eviction cases into just five courtrooms.
Last year, tenants could go to 21 courthouses to try to avoid being kicked out of their homes, the paper reported. Palomares argued this creates a hardship for tenants who would have to commute for hours to courthouses as far as 60 miles away to fight eviction. The groups noted that when Federal Judge Terry Hatter quickly dismissed the earlier lawsuit he did not rule on the merits but indicated a different court should hear the case.
The Daily Bulletin story was written by Christina Villacorte: @LADNvillacorte on Twitter. Read the story here

Heat Is On Judges With Court Cutbacks

Asking some hard questions about how California courts are managed, a column by James Preston Allen puts the focus on the judicial branch. The publisher of the website Random Length News ( actually compares the justice system to church. It’s an important voice because it pushes back on the judicial branch argument that the finger should be pointed at the state budget.
In a recent column, he wrote: “When you think about it, courts and churches do have some striking similarities. Both have these large symbolic edifices with intimidating rooms of pomp and ritual where attendees sit in rows. One is refrained from approaching the altar, judicial or otherwise, unless invited and the officiators for either God or law all wear ceremonial robes. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Just as we have segregated God from pedestrian access, so too have we separated justice from the common civic experience. It’s about to get worse in our California justice system.”

Allen follows that with a list of financial issues, noting that the current crisis ” is just more of the unintended consequences of balancing the state budget while screwing the taxpayers.” That column has been picked up by City Watch L.A. and you can read the details here.

L.A. Court Cuts Becoming Model For Others

If anyone was wondering if the reorganization and centralization of the Los Angeles County court system would become a model for others, they can stop. It, of course, is. The most recent public example came from the Bakersfield Californian as the paper, in an editorial, said that counties will “… have to get creative, and some already have. Los Angeles County Superior Court, faced with an even bigger shortfall, will create specialized hubs where certain cases will be processed, such as personal injury, limited civil, small claims, collections and unlawful detainer [eviction] matters. All general civil personal injury and some civil actions, for example, must be filed at a single specified courthouses… Kern County officials will have to look at those and similar models to keep the already-overburdened court system moving…”
Kern County is like many others in facing big local cuts, and faces a $3.7 million deficit. The Californian outlines other options and notes “… some suggested more than a year ago by then-Los Angeles County Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon, include simplifying criminal and civil procedures — something that’s long overdue regardless of budgetary necessity.”

You can see the editorial and get more details here.