More court construction delays likely

By From page A12 | March 08, 2013

SACRAMENTO — More California counties could see delays in much-needed courthouse construction projects unless the state Legislature sees fit to restore funding to the beleaguered judicial branch.

The Judicial Council of California, the council’s Court Facilities Working Group has recommended the delay of 11 projects if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget is enacted. The governor’s proposal includes taking $200 million from the court construction budget to fund trial court operations and also puts off the state’s repayment of $90 million that was borrowed from the court construction fund.

The 11 projects recommended for delay are in Hemet, Inyo, Lakeport, Modesto, Placerville, Redding, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Sonora, Ukiah and Yreka. The Judicial Council has already ordered the indefinite delay of 11 other courthouse projects in the state in the past four months.

The construction delays are the result of a court budget crisis that has seen state general fund money directed to the judicial branch reduced by more than $1.1 billion over the past five years. The funding cuts have also led to courtrooms and entire courthouses being closed and layoffs of court personnel, creating unnecessary delays and inconvenience for California consumers and businesses seeking justice.

“By lengthening the wait to get started on these essential court construction projects, all we are doing is continuing to rob from the future to pay for the present,” said Consumer Attorneys of California President Brian Kabateck. “It’s a shortsighted attempt at a solution that doesn’t get at the real problem: inadequate funding for a branch of government that affects the lives of all our citizens. This third-class treatment of the system that protects Californians’ liberty must end.”

Consumer Attorneys of California is a professional organization of plaintiffs’ attorneys representing consumers seeking accountability against wrongdoers in cases involving personal injury, product liability, environmental degradation and other causes.

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