Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Page 1


Superior Court Says It Will Delay 500 Layoffs Indefinitely

Furlough Days to Be Determined Month-to-Month, Clarke Tells Staff




The Los Angeles Superior Court will delay indefinitely the 500 layoffs previously scheduled for September, Executive Officer/Clerk John A. Clarke has told staff members.

In a memorandum sent to employees on Monday, Clarke said the planned layoffs can be delayed as a result of discussions in Sacramento that appear to have borne fruit.

The court will, however, take a staff furlough day on July 21, and will continue to consider furloughs one month at a time.

Clarke credited the “extraordinary efforts” of Presiding Judge Charles McCoy and others to persuade lawmakers to agree to a plan to enable trial courts statewide to operate with some semblance of normalcy. “At the moment, these efforts have resulted in a tentative package of solutions (i.e., increased fees, restoration of previous cuts and redirection of statewide branch fund balances) that would mitigate more than three quarters of the courts’ budget deficits this year.”

‘Difficult Process’

Clarke cautioned against celebrating, however, because the package must survive the “long and difficult budget process,” would still leave the court with a deficit that will force it to spend down its reserves, and includes one-time solutions. He also noted that California’s recovery is lagging behind that of the nation, and that the State Legislative Analyst’s Office projects that the state’s deficit will continue to grow over the next two years.

“Everything we know about our long-term financial situation tells us that more cuts are likely in the future,” Clarke wrote. “I am, nevertheless, heartened by the hard work and sacrifice of State policy makers and other Court stakeholders who are helping to preserve access to justice.”

Furlough Plan

The court last summer began furloughing employees one day per month, operating with skeletal staff on the third Wednesday of each month. The Judicial Council, after securing legislative approval, subsequently declared that day a court holiday through this month.

Last Wednesday was the last statewide court closure day, so the court will go back to what it did last July and August—keeping courthouses open with a bare minimum of employees to handle emergencies such as statutorily mandated hearings, felony bench warrants, and domestic violence, elder abuse or civil harassment restraining orders involving stalking and/or threatened violence, Clarke said.

The clerk’s office will provide a secure drop box for filings at each courthouse, and any papers deposited by 4:30 p.m. will be stamped in as filed that date, but there will be no review of papers or copying by the staff. Drop boxes may also be used for paying fines or fees, but no receipts will be given that day.

Any matter calendared for July 21 and not rescheduled will automatically be heard the next day. Since the day is not a court holiday, it will be counted as a business day for purposes of filing deadlines.


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