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In Focus: Judicial Branch Budget Crisis

Video: Budget Cut Impacts

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Local bar associations report on impacts of judicial branch budget reductions on legal practitioners and the public:


Unprecedented budget cuts since 2008 have closed 52 courthouses, reduced services statewide, and eroded the public’s access to justice. Many Californians must travel longer distances, miss more time at work, and wait much longer to have their day in court. Self-help and family law assistance services have also been reduced or shuttered in courts throughout the state. These are just a few of the impacts of budget cuts since the Great Recession.

Visit the links provided on this interactive map for more details, county by county. Budget snapshots and video reports will help you learn about both the impacts of budget cuts and how each superior court plans to use any new funds to increase efficiency and improve access to justice.

One-page snapshots from California's 58 counties provide details about how courts have been impacted after years of cuts, and give information about shortfalls expected in the coming fiscal year. 

Since 2008:

•  Court closures have deprived more than 2 million Californians of access to justice in their local communities.

•  52 courthouses and a total of 202 courtrooms have closed. 

•  30 courts have had to reduce hours at public service counters. 

•  15 courts have had to institute limited court service days (where the majority of courtrooms and clerk's offices are closed).

•  Nearly 4,000 court staff have lost their jobs. Many courts are leaving vacant positions unfilled, and some courts continue to furlough employees.

Download the file containing all 58 county snapshots

Liaison Reports

Judicial Council liaison reports, available on YouTube, tell the stories of local courts struggling to keep their courtrooms open under the weight of drastic budget cuts over the years. 

More Statewide Details

Budget cuts have had major impact on court staffing. What does this mean to the public? Longer drives to reach courthouses, longer lines at courthouses, and unprecedented case delays.

Here are some of the impacts on critical services reported by surveyed courts:

  • Most courts have had to reduce self-help or family law facilitator services
  • Many no longer provide court reporters in civil, family, and probate matters
  • Many have reduced court interpreter services in civil cases (services in criminal cases are constitutionally required)
  • Many have cut specialty courts—innovative, problem-solving courts that serve the most vulnerable in society.
    Examples: drug court, homeless court, mental health court, youth court, and domestic violence court
  • Many have reduced security measures
  • In San Bernardino and Fresno, court users must now drive up to three hours to reach their closest courthouse
  • Nearly a dozen critically needed courthouse construction projects are on hold, and many will not proceed unless funds are restored.

Without adequate reinvestment in the courts, the public will see further strain :

  • Courts will be forced to implement more layoffs, close more courtrooms, and further reduce services and hours.
  • Some courts anticipate having to shutter civil courtrooms entirely.
  • Traffic, family, juvenile, probate and small claims issues will be delayed, and access to justice will be severely limited.
  • Urgently needed courthouse projects will be delayed; more may have to be canceled.