Friday, August 3, 2012


Like all agencies across the State of CA, the State's budget woes have also affected the courts, to varying degrees per county.  The most recent cutback that will be occurring in O.C. will be the cessation of hearing civil cases and small claims matters in the West Justice Center (WJC) in Westminster.  For example, in the fiscal year of 2011-2012 the WJC heard approximately 9,400 civil cases and more than 3,300 small claims cases.  These civil/small claims matters will now be transferred to the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana or the North Justice Center in Fullerton.  No court staff is apparently going to be let go, instead 12 employees from the WJC will be transferred to the various branch courts.  Obviously, given the volume of civil/small claims matters heard in WJC over the past fiscal year will mean that the transfer of such matters to the other branch courts will cause further delay in hearing those matters when the branch courts are already keeping busy with the normal flow of matters that are directly filed there.   In addition, the night court sessions for small claims in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach will be canceled and redirected to the Central Justice Center. The Governor has scheduled a $544 million cut to the judiciary, and the O.C. Superior Court will have to dip into its cash reserves to deal with these cutbacks.  Orange County residents should still be thankful that Orange County Superior Court remains one of the most efficient and user friendly superior courts in the state in the face of such adversity, given its excellent court staff and sitting judges.  Nevertheless, expect matters to get worse before they get better.  It remains a shame that the justice system should be adversely affected by the incompetence of state government.