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.


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Mr. Holly

This is really easy to fix. Do away with the free civil court cases and fee the attorney’s like everyone else gets charged. Why should it be free when everyone else has to pay for their profits. I would estimate that if you took the hourly charge for a judge, clerk, stenographer, baliff and other supporting staff plus the use of the courtroom, you could probably come up with a fee of $2500 or more per hour. Don’t these judges also get some type of ridiculous life time retirements? If so they ought to get in line like others and take a hit. But then who is guarding the hen house? Attorney’s.That certainly would be a burden on the ambulance chasers pocketbooks. A fee like this would certainly clear up the courtrooms.


bobfromsanluis

Interesting; you are actually advocating for what was mentioned in the last paragraph of this article? In other words, you would kind of “privatize” the legal system? Really nice disconnect with our current legal system; yeah, I know that there are areas that could stand improvement, but do you seriously believe that it is in the best interest of justice to turn it into a “pay-to-play” system? Good grief.


Mr. Holly

Yes I think it would work for civil cases only and not criminal. Lawyers are making a financial killing by clogging the court system with mostly frivilas civil cases. These cases could be heard utilizing arbitration which would be conducted by private parties at a cost to the people using the system. It’s already in effect with many civil cases.


bobfromsanluis

The point I was trying to make (apparently much too subtly) is the old saying “justice delayed is justice denied”, specifically where a person who cannot afford the fees associated with a private system. Are you really OK with someone who cannot afford to have themselves represented being ruled against ? Is that really justice for all?


Mr. Holly

Apparently they can afford the ambulance chaser’s fee which I think range fro 30% upwards to 50% of the settlement if there is one. I think the burden here will really be of the attorney’s for bring only legitimate cases to civil court.

Having dealt with attorney’s in the past as an expert witness the tact was to sue everyone because most will settle out of court for something. Out of court is not really out of court but is through the court to increase the intimidation factor.

Because of this mode of operation I refuse to be involved in these types of cases.


choprzrul

1. Outsource prisoner housing to 3rd party contractors in Mexico for .10 on the current dollars spent == $7 billion savings


2. Double current oil production & tax @ $1/barrel = $1 billion in revenue.


3. Constitutional amendment to ban tax expenditures to anyone actively breaking any federal, state, or local law or ordinance. Billions & billions saved.


4. Ban any public employee from receiving any public revenue for any retirement plan that the general public is not eligible to participate in. Bunches of billions saved


Four simple steps to a budget surplus.


Oh yeah, another amendment that says legislators are subject to the same laws as the public.


bobfromsanluis

Okay, you certainly made an attempt, even if the first one isn’t constitutional. For the second one, how about starting out by just having a fee for the off-shore facilities like they do in Texas, Alaska, and other states? Number three, sounds like you are advocating for larger government; unless you have enough state personal on hand to audit the tax expenditures to make sure that they aren’t going to lawbreakers, how will you enforce such an amendment? Number four, instead of banning public employees from the current retirement plans they are in, how about working to change the plans for new hires for government workers to pay into Social Security like the rest of us?


choprzrul

1. Can you point out the relative PC section or controlling decision that supports your assertion that my #1 above is unconstitutional? Not saying you are wrong, just fact gathering.


2. Fees or taxes, I don’t care which. It is a state resource and the state needs to enjoy some benefit from its removal.


3. Why would we need any more personnel? As the current employees vet recipients, their workload naturally decreases because they are servicing fewer people. The net result is actually fewer government workers.


4. Sure, gotta start somewhere.


bobfromsanluis

To send prisoners to Mexico as a means of cutting costs of incarceration would violate the civil rights of those prisoners since they would no longer be under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws; those prisoners could be abused, not fed properly and would completely eliminate any visits by loved ones of the incarcerated.

Glad to see some agreement there.

“Why would we need any more personnel?” Not all government employees can do every job there is; there are different pay grades for different jobs (do I really need to explain that?) Apparently we don’t have enough auditors as it is, you know, those in government who actually provide the oversight in the phrase “government oversight”. It is all well and fine to pass laws or add amendments to the state Constitution, but without the follow up of oversight and enforcement, compliance would seem to “voluntary”; not usually the best means of obtaining the desired results.


oceanoguy

Maybe California judges will only have time now to be actually judicial instead of legislating from the bench.


Kidholm

The easy solution would be to simply mandate that judges, attorneys and court workers hear all of the cases regardless of funds available to pay them. A legal analogy of the unfunded government EMTALA mandate, if you will. No reason why they should limit the squeeze to just healthcare workers.


Structure

Even just legalizing pot would make a large difference. Think people don’t go to prison for possessing pot? Think again. It’s a parole violation so many former prisoners are returned to prison each year for getting caught holding pot…


The Gimlet Eye

Well said, Structure, well said.


Structure

Judicial and police rationing is already happening. The number of people behind bars for drug offenses has risen by 1,100% between 1980 and 2012. 4/5 of those for non-violent possession charges…not sales. That represents a huge public investment in policing, prosecuting, and incarcerating. It’s time to end the war on drugs. If we did so, the courts, prisons, and police would have more than adequate resources.


The Gimlet Eye

Speaking of “rationing,” that’s what a socialist state does automatically, all the way around (except for incarcerating people, of course).


Wherever you look (except for prison), services are being “rationed,” shutting down, closing up.


Medical care, education, dmv hours, public library hours, public furloughs……


If this keeps up, we won’t have any government at all worth mentioning.


This is forcing me to look at the bright side. Imagine waking up one day and there’s no government.


bobfromsanluis

So you want the United States to be like Somalia?


The Gimlet Eye

Nothing good comes out of Washington, D.C.


JorgeEstrada

Maybe the Feds can fund justice for the illegals or non-California residents. Funding the un-intended consequences is too costly.


kayaknut

How about “rationing” judges salaries instead of justice. The cuts may of caused courtrooms to close but it didn’t cause judges salaries and benefits to decline, funny how that works


bobfromsanluis

“I want to shrink government down to the size that it can be drowned in a bathtub”; does anyone think that a Democrat said that? In case you don’t know who said that, it is Grover Norquist, a Republican strategist who came up with the pledge that is put before ALL Republicans when they take an elective office of a state house or federal position that states that they will NEVER vote for any bill anytime, anywhere that raises taxes on anyone for any reason. The truly ironic situation here is that the Republicans always tout how “tough of crime” they are, how criminals need to be “punished”, but now that we are going to really have to examine how funding is going to need to be modified so we can continue certain government functions, the Republicans will dig in even deeper claiming that there is “too much waste” in government spending. If all of you Republicans still want to sing that tune, start identifying the programs you want to cut and see if you can really slash your way to a balanced budget; IMO, it cannot happen.


Theo P. Neustic

That’s nice that you thought you had an opportunity to stand on a soapbox and preach but this is mainly having to do with civil court. Civil court is certainly an area that can be pruned down with it being so clogged up with superfluous lawsuits brought on by greedy lawyers and entitlement dreaming clients.


bobfromsanluis

Very nice on-point response to my query about which programs conservatives will cut to attempt to balance the budget; want to try again, and this time address the question?


Theo P. Neustic

I’m sorry, I must have completely missed the point of the article.


bobfromsanluis

Well, it seems you two things right, you’re sorry, and you completely missed the point of the article; the article is pointing out how much is being cut back in our court system, how the brunt of cuts always seem to impact those who have less, like the last paragraph: “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.” My point is that conservatives love to go on and on about cutting back government services and seem to have no problem with impacts like these courts not being able to provide the services they were designed for. I have asked twice now about where it is that conservatives would cut government services to balance the budget, knowing full well that there isn’t enough that can be cut without drastically reducing needed government services to balance our budget, but twice now you in replying to me have avoided the question completely about where you would point out we can cut back enough to balance our state budget. One last time; can you name where to cut back enough to balance our state budget?


Robert1

1ST -Just mandate a drug test for every person that receives ANY government assistance. That alone would cause a huge reduction.

2ND- Use a eye retina scan and finger print every person into a federal data base that receives gov aid and that would help reduce double dippers.

This is a prime example –

http://social.patriotactionnetwork com/profiles/blogs/conservatives-hoping-to-close-abused-tax-law-loophole


bobfromsanluis

Oh great, more laws! You know, conservatives always rail on and on about how we have too many damn laws, but always seem to the first to suggest new ones if there is any possibility that we can squash the weakest among us, namely those receiving government assistance. “Just mandate a drug test for every person that receives ANY government assistance.” I will say that is a great idea AFTER all elected officials submit to those same drug tests; after all, isn’t a government salary a form of government assistance? How about ALL government employees? That would include all members of any law enforcement as well; what’s that? Too much government intrusion into the personal lives of legislators and officers of the law? If you are going to require drug testing for anyone, it only seems fair to require it of everyone receiving anything from the government.

And neither of your suggestions would come close to balancing our state budget. Anyone else?


R.Hodin

The Republicans have left the building.