L.A. to close 10 courthouses in the next 8 mos

Posted on November 15, 2012

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Yesterday we heard that Los Angeles, the largest municipal court system in the world will shutter all courtrooms in 10 courthouses. While the press releases and news articles are unclear about how many jobs will be erased, people are telling us numbers that extend from somewhere short of 300 to 800 or more jobs in the most aggressive reorganization in the courts history.

The AOC could learn something from the courts about reorgs. Reorgs are not a time to add management and supervisory positions and hand out fat raises while expanding your operations. We don’t comprehend how courts from across the state could permit this travesty to be perpetuated upon them by the highest level of the judiciary while they’re forced to curtail their own operations. Surely pressures such as those that San Joaquin or Los Angeles Courts must be bubbling over into the legislature but we have yet to hear any of the courts call the spade a spade and cry foul on the AOC’s phantom reorg, better known as rearranging the deck chairs.

Of course the JC wishes to “speak with one voice” about “branch funding” because they want their nearly 17% cut of those funds. But it is the courts that are dying while the AOC builds even more courthouses. Worse, we have a judicial needs assessment that is conducted by the AOC that indicates we need hundreds more new judgeships but doesn’t mention a word about the hundreds of judges that, because they have no staff, cannot run in a courtroom today.

All of this speaks to the need to democratize the judicial council and permit the courts to have a say in their futures. It also speaks to the need for legislators to step up to the plate and recognize that a committee of persons appointed by one that only meets six to eight times a year is incapable of sound governance and fund the trial courts and the AOC directly, not “branch funding” doled out by the same people who have been mismanaging branch funds for years.