Rationed Justice: Sac Bee latest to lament court budgets

The Sacramento Bee continues to bang the court-crisis drum, pointing out that San Joaquin County has stopped bothering to set hearings for small-claims cases and thousands of other civil cases are backlogged as budget cuts force California courts to ration justice โ€“ in effect, choosing winners and losers from the funding cutbacks.

Notes the Bee in story this week: “California’s Penal Code mandates that criminal cases get precedence, civil cases have borne the brunt of pared-back staffing and hours. That has forced courts to choose which types of cases are priorities and which can wait…”

The paper says that “… years of general fund cutbacks โ€“ about $1.2 billion total since 2008, including $475 million from trial courts โ€“ have already forced courts to recalibrate. While California does not keep comprehensive statewide data on the impact of court funding, a county-by-county breakdown in a judicial branch website reveals a litany of reduced hours, vacant positions, shuttered courthouses and eliminated programs for handling domestic violence and family law.” Read the entire story, part of a push-back effort from judges, here.