California Chief Justice Unveils Blueprint For Court System

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By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye was joined by California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg, legislators, business owners and others on January 14 as she launched a three-year plan to reinvest in Californias justice system, Blueprint for a Fully Functioning Judicial Branch.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) also spoke at the event, echoing Cantil-Sakauye in the call for more court funding.

Funding Cuts

Over the last five years, Californias court system has faced more than $1 billion in budget cuts from the General Fund. In the 20122013 budget year, courts struggled to maintain services as they absorbed nearly a half billion dollars in cuts. This led to the closure of courthouses and hundreds of courtrooms, reduced service hours, and reduced self-help/family law facilitator services.

The courts have mitigated the impacts of some of these budget reductions using one-time solutions, such as increasing fines and user fees, and spending trial court reserves, local court fund balances and construction funds. The Legislative Analyst has indicated, however, that courts face ongoing cuts which will increase by more than $200 million in the 20142015 budget year, and courts will have fewer resources available to offset those cuts.

A critical situation will become a desperate one, because in 1415 the judicial system branch runs out of mitigation, runs out of any attempts and ability to backfill, because our funds have been used up, Cantil-Sakauye said at the press conference.

Business Concerns

Travis Hausauer, owner of Squeeze Inn restaurants, shared the business perspective on the issue, saying that an adequately funded and fully functional court system is crucial.

Small businesses like mine rely on the courts to dispense justice quickly and efficiently so we can get back to doing what we do best: offering goods and services, and creating jobs in our communities, he said. When I hear stories about how difficult it can be to resolve even the most routine of legal issues, I know California can do better.

Like Hausauer, Alzada Knickerbocker, owner of The Avid Reader bookstore in Davis and member of the leadership council for the National Federation of Independent Business, stressed how important the court system is to business owners, as they rely on trial and appellate courts, and delays in the system can make the difference of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

A case that resolves in a year, rather than three, not only means less money in legal fees, but also less heartache for the parties involved and less diversion in time and energy taken away from businesses prime productive activity: the successful daily running of the business, she said.

The monies proposed in the Blueprint, Knickerbocker said, will allow justice to move expeditiously.

Blueprint

Cantil-Sakauye pointed to the Blueprint for the future funding of the judicial branch. The Blueprint outlines a three-year plan to restore and improve access to justice in California by focusing on four core elements:

Implementing Access 3D: Physical Access (keeping courts open), Remote Access (increasing ability to conduct business online rather than in line), and Equal Access (providing services to people of all languages, abilities, needs and socio-economic levels);

 

Closing trial court funding gap;

Providing critically needed judgeships; and

Modernizing court technology (a predominantly paper-based court system is costly and inefficient).

The Blueprint can be accessed at

www.courts.ca.gov/documents/JudicialBranchBlueprint.pdf.

– See more at: http://www.vvchamber.com/index.php?module=corp_news&post_id=76#sthash.olOwoOgt.dpuf

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