Courthouses must be fully accessible, seismically safe, and designed, where appropriate, with a system of secure elevators and corridors for the transportation of in-custody defendants.
The Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002 initiated the process for the transfer and management of California's court facilities from the counties to the state. This transfer process was completed at the end of 2009.
Within that decade, trial court and county leaders collaborated with the Judicial Council to develop a 20-year facility master plan for each Superior Court. The master plan and subsequent five-year infrastructure plans, updated annually, identify and prioritize the need for repair, replacement, and expansion of court facilities.
Working in partnership with the Legislature and the Governor, the judicial branch has made a major commitment to funding new construction and renovations that will improve access to justice throughout California. The funding comes from court users statewide, without impact on the state's General Fund.
The Judicial Branch Facilities Program is one of the largest public building programs, totaling more than 45 courthouse projects at over $5 billion. The program also includes repairs and renovations to improve conditions in the hundreds of court facilities that have transferred to judicial branch responsibility.
Even so, the need remains great. Because of the state’s fiscal crisis, nearly $1.5 billion of court user fees originally designated by the Legislature to be set aside for court construction have been borrowed, transferred to the state General Fund, or redirected to court operations, requiring some projects to be delayed indefinitely or for at least a year. Also, the most recent five-year infrastructure plan identified another 100 capital projects which remain unfunded, and the AOC's assessment of courthouses not slated for replacement or major renovations highlights a legacy of neglect in these buildings. To date, there is an estimated $1 billion in deferred maintenance costs and other facility modification projects.
For more information, see the Judicial Branch Facilities Program site.