‘Notices’ Are Next Step Toward Looming ‘Lawmageddon’ Court Crunch

Los Angeles residents who endure the “carmageddon” of an I-405 commute can also brace for a looming “lawmageddon” as Superior courts cuts move from the drawing board to the courthouses; and it’s starting to happen in other areas that were holding out in hopes of more state funding. The notice process is vital, not that the public is ever going to notice, because state code requires “written notice” to both the public and the Judicial Council before closing courtrooms or reducing clerk’s hours.
That starts the shutdown clock ticking, and many notices are like the May 13 statement from the San Mateo Superior Court Officer announcing, among other things, that domestic violence and civil harassment restraining orders would no longer be available in the Northern Branch and people will be “redirected” to Redwood City. Four of six courtrooms in the South San Francisco branch will be closed.
It will take a while for the ripple effect to take its toll, but when restraining orders become more difficult to obtain the results will make their way to a headline near you fairly soon. The San Mateo court, in the notice letter, also notes that steps it has “… already taken over the last five years to operationalize the ongoing cuts have been considerable, including but not limited to maximizing technology and business process re-engineering efficiencies, cutting all non-personnel costs, renegotiating service contracts, consolidating trial court services and clerks offices, reducing employee wages due to mandated court closures, increasing benefit contributions and significantly reducing our workforce through normal attrition, incentive programs and layoffs. You can find a good report on the letter, written by a state bar member, here (just scroll past the social news).