23 days – L.A. Courts announce 750 possible layoffs

Posted on August 24, 2011

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Yesterday L.A. superior court unveiled it’s own budget troubles by indicating that the states largest trial court system will have an 85.4 million dollar shortfall by the end of this fiscal year.

In the current fiscal year, L.A. will avoid layoffs and court closures by burning through their own reserves and relying on one time fixes. That does nothing to cure the anticipated 200 million dollar projected shortfall in the following fiscal year where the states’ largest court system is looking at having to lay off as many as 750 people. Equating that to court and courtroom closures, JCW estimates that a cut this deep will close not only courtrooms but entire courthouses as scores of courtrooms are shut down. No worries though because the AOC will be building scores of empty new courtrooms in L.A. County to add to those being shut down…….

If someone can please explain the logic behind that last line written in the above paragraph, it would be helpful as John Q. Public just doesn’t understand why one would build new courthouses that the local courts and the local counties cannot afford to staff while shutting down even more courthouses.

Anyone?

It also appears all eyes are on the AOC’s 9.8 milion in reserves to be utilized to assist trial courts in an emergency, yet the largest contingent of available funding, the one source that could cure what ills every court, can be found in the AOC’s court construction program. Given this remains as true today as it was on the date of the last judicial council meeting, John Q. Public is even more puzzled why new courthouses are being built when the judicial branch cannot afford to staff the perfectly suitable courtrooms that already exist statewide.  Why is it again that we need new judgeships when there is no support staff or courtrooms for them and they can’t be furloughed or laid off? 

Just like jails they can’t afford to staff….

The Pitchess Detention center in L.A’.s North County houses just two inmates. The reason it houses just two inmates out of the 1,600 it maintained just a few years ago is due to budget cuts. Closing the jail completely would require it to be re-permitted which would likely involve costly remodeling to bring it up to current code. Yes, it could be more costly to shut it down completely than to maintain the two inmates there to ensure it does not need to be re-permitted. Many courthouses also have holding that would run into similar permitting problems should whole courthouses shut down.  This isn’t the only L.A. jail with a problem.

In mid 2009, the LAPD finished construction on their new 84 million dollar Metropolitan Detention Center.  Designed to hold 512 inmates, the jail remained empty for two years after construction because the city of Los Angeles couldn’t afford to staff the jail. This year, a decision was made to take 88 sworn police officers off the street to man the jail at a cost considerably more to the taxpayers than their civilian counterparts in the department. They also closed four other city jails to be able to have staff for MDC.  It’s no surprise that occupancy remains low at the new jail. It makes sense when you pull officers off the street that you’re likely to experience fewer arrests and fewer resulting incarcerations.

How many empty courthouses are to be built that no one can afford to staff?