Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, others say Judicial Branch Can't Sustain Drastic Cuts to Budget

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Contact: Leanne Kozak, 916-263-2838


May 14, 2012

Judicial Branch Can't Sustain Drastic Cuts to Budget

San Francisco—California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and other judicial branch leaders today issued the following statements in response to a proposed reduction of another $544 million to the judicial branch budget for fiscal year 2012-13.

"The proposed cuts to the judicial branch are both devastating and disheartening. They will seriously compromise the public’s access to their courts and our ability to provide equal access to justice throughout the state. I am calling for an emergency meeting of the Judicial Council in three days so we can analyze what this means for the branch and how we can go forward together in preventing the harm these cuts will bring to our residents. It’s my responsibility as Chief Justice to ensure that all Californians have a justice system that supports and protects their rights."
—Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye
"The Governor’s announced budget cuts to the judicial branch will be difficult, if not impossible, for the branch to absorb. Over the past three years we have played our role in reducing the cost to govern, cutting programs and services, having funds redirected to support the state’s general fund needs. And now, we in the judicial branch must come together to not only resist these proposed cuts, but to come up with solutions that will permit us to serve and protect the rights of the public as best we can under these dire circumstances."
—Justice Douglas Miller, Chair of the Executive and Planning Committee, Judicial Council.

"The judicial branch is at an extremely critical juncture.  Appellate courts cannot absorb additional cuts and continue to fulfill their constitutional mandate.  Our courts exist to protect the fundamental rights of all Californians.  We cannot turn litigants away simply because money is scarce." 
—Administrative Presiding Justice William R. McGuiness,  First District Court of Appeal

"I respect the challenges faced by the Governor and the Legislature during this Great Recession. But the Judicial Branch is a co-equal branch of our government and must receive an adequate level of funding to do our job.  Trial courts have taken four straight years of cutbacks–we simply cannot sustain another year of cuts without erosion of our ability to provide timely and full access to the public.  People with small claims cases, renters and landlords who seek help, family law disputes, contract cases, personal injury cases, property disputes, people with claims against the government–all will be impacted"
—Judge David Rosenberg, Judicial Council member and Chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Executive Committee

"The situation is dire and getting worse. While some courts have already laid off hundreds and closed courtrooms, most of the courts in the state are limping along. The message I’ve been communicating in Sacramento is “Everything may seem OK on the surface, but the cumulative impact of these cuts is unsustainable over time.”  Well, there appears to be a new round of cuts coming, and it’s beyond unsustainable.  The entire civil justice system as we know it is in peril. All courts are going to feel the pain, even those that have managed well so far.”
—Jon Streeter, President of the State Bar of California

"Our state judiciary is being economically starved to death. We’re at a point where it’s reasonable to ask whether recovery is even possible.”
—Joseph Dunn, Executive Director of the State Bar of California

"California citizens who use the courts have been placed in a tidal wave without a life boat. Sadly, they and their constitutional rights are being washed away."
—Niall P. McCarthy, attorney and Co-Chair of the Open Courts Coalition

"The Governor's massive cuts to our state court budget threatens to shut the lights out on hundreds of courtrooms, locking out Californians from our justice system and eliminating the safest place for citizens to resolve their disputes."
—Paul R. Kiesel, attorney and Co-Chair of the Open Courts Coalition