Writer Recaps Court Budget Situation

Much-watched Sacramento Bee Columnist Dan Walters, whose ideas go well beyond the state capitol, has published a good recap of the state’s court situation, outlining the recent history of shifting state funding from local to state authorities and concluding that: “Bottom line: The shift to state support was supposed to bring financial stability to the courts but instead has brought much higher instability.”
He offers this quick history: “When the Legislature and then-Gov. Pete Wilson agreed in 1997 that the state would assume the entire cost of financing California’s largest-in-the-nation court system, judges rejoiced… it was a big win for Ron George, whom Wilson had appointed as the state’s chief justice a year earlier, and he hailed ‘a stable and adequate source of funding’ as ‘one of the most important reforms in the California justice systems in the 20th century.'”
Walters also observes that “… the impact is being felt mostly on the civil side of courts because criminal cases command priority for restricted judicial resources. It can take literally years for a civil case to get a trial date.”
It’s a good read, but also a good story to file away for newcomers to how things got this way. Read it via the Mercury News here Dan Walters: California courts sought stability, found instability