Courts choking on cash deficit
May 17, 2012
Deep budget cuts to state courts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown have judges predicting a “rationing” of justice. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Brown wants to shave $544 million from the court system budget as part of the governor’s plan to close an estimated $16 billion deficit.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said of the proposed spending cuts, “The bottom is going to fall out. We’ve done all that we can.” She accused budget writers of “rationing” equity in the nation’s largest judicial system.
She said that four straight years of state reductions totaling $653 million have caused civil courtrooms to close, clogging calendars; building repairs have been postponed; and legal services for indigents are bring reduced.
Cantil-Sakauye also expressed concern that the state’s court system is moving toward two-tiered justice, where the wealthy will be able to opt out of the system by choosing private arbitration — a situation that would cloak many of those cases in secrecy.