Transit Strike Underscores Problems With Court Closures: What Happens When Access Goes Away?

Lots of issues surface during a transit strike like this week’s BART shutdown in San Francisco. Let’s add one more: By “consolidating” what were community courts, the courts – especially the Los Angeles Superior Court — has made access to justice much more dependent on mass transit, and nobody has mentioned what happens when you can’t make court because of problems with transit, whether that is a strike or just some random breakdown. Does somebody face a bench warrant because a bus overheats?
Granted, even community courts faced similar challenges. But let’s note that, as The Los Angeles Times reported back in March, “… in the 21-page [lawsuit] filing, the organizations said the reduction in the number of courthouses hearing such cases from 26 to five throughout the county will create difficulties for low-income tenants and people with disabilities fighting eviction… some people will have to travel up to 32 miles to litigate their cases, court officials have said. The trips ‘to the courthouse for these tenants will require numerous transfers and travel to unfamiliar areas and will be prohibitively difficult and expensive,’ the lawsuit states.”
So the best-case for those using public transit is a living hell. But we need to address how the courts handle lack of transit, and the BART strike is the first large-scale example since the rationing of justice began for real last week. It’s a good time to revisit the lawsuit coverage, see L.A.Times.
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