By Staff Reports
(High Desert)– After months of working with leaders from every High Desert city, First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood on Friday applauded progress in allocating $100 million for courts across California.
The breakthrough comes weeks after courtroom closures in Barstow and Needles forced additional cases into courts in Victorville and San Bernardino.
“Sacramento is listening to us,” Lovingood said. “Local leaders have done an outstanding job in showing that San Bernardino County courts are the most underfunded in the state. This is great news, but our work is not done.”
A state Assembly subcommittee voted Thursday to adopt the Governor’s proposal to provide an additional $100 million directed specifically to trial courts funds for trial court operations. The committee acknowledged that it is not as much as they would like, but it is a starting point and they are committed to look for additional funding.
Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed two judges for San Bernardino County. They are San Bernardino County Public Defender Erin K. Alexander, 39, of Moreno Valley and San Bernardino County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Lisa M. Rogan, 50, of Alta Loma. They both replace retiring judges.
In the last five years, the California judicial branch has been cut $1 billion, a reduction of nearly 65 percent. The California state court system, the largest in the world, serves 38 million people.
It was not immediately clear how much funding would flow to San Bernardino County courts. However legislators are planning to allocate the funds based on workload. Hopefully that should benefit San Bernardino County, which has the highest ratio of cases to court staff in the state. San Bernardino County courts need 156 judicial officers, but the state has funded only 86 positions, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Lovingood plans to meet with legislators next week to press for additional court funding.
Because of state funding cuts, the courthouse in Barstow was reduced in early May to one courtroom open three days a week. The Needles courthouse was closed altogether. Those closures follow courthouse closures in Twin Peaks (FY 2006-07), Redlands (FY 2009-10) and Chino (FY 2012-13). One courtroom was closed in Joshua Tree and night court was eliminated countywide in March 2013.