The severe state budget cutbacks to California courts prompted the Judicial Council Friday to ease the process for county courts to seek emergency funds. Courts with a negative fund balance may apply for urgent funding that will be considered by the council within 25 business days.
“In light of the unprecedented cuts in the judicial branch budget, the council is committed to assisting trial courts with the greatest financial needs,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
The new process alerts court administrators to the specific information needed by the council to evaluate an urgent needs request and the terms that will be applied to receiving funds.
The courts’ responses to cuts so far have been to reduce hours of operation for clerk’s offices and in some places limit courtroom hours. A report to the council Friday indicated 11 additional courts have given notice that they will reduce hours of operation. They include San Mateo, Mendocino, Merced, Humboldt, Nevada, Lake, Placer, Ventura, Kings, Fresno and Yolo Counties.
The council is also monitoring four county courts through audit reports reviewed Friday, including San Joaquin County Superior Court, Alpine, Eldorado and Napa County courts. The reports on how these courts are handling their funds are placed on the California Court’s website for public access.