Monday. July 18, 2011
CJA Says It Will Seek Jobs for Laid-Off Judicial Officers
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Judges Association will seek to obtain new positions for laid-off San Francisco Superior Court commissioners, either through judicial appointments or commissioner appointments in other counties, its president said Friday.
San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Keith Davis, in an email to members, said the group was “greatly distressed to learn that San Francisco Superior Court plans to close 25 courtrooms, lay off almost all of its Superior Court Commissioners, and reduce its staff by 40%.”
San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Kathleen Feinstein is scheduled to discuss the layoffs of 200 employees, and other budget-cutting moves, at a press conference this morning. Staff members there have been bracing for such action after lawmakers last month added another $150 million in judicial branch budget cuts to the $200 million previously expected statewide.
Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Lee Edmon said Thursday that action similar to San Francisco’s cannot be ruled as the state’s largest trial court deals with its share of the cuts.
In his message to CJA members, Davis wrote:
“The budget reductions to the judicial branch the last several years have been so deep that their impact on all trial courts is unavoidable. The announcement from San Francisco Superior Court may be the first of many from trial courts throughout the state.
“This is a very sad day for the judicial branch and all who work so hard in it to ensure the fair and prompt handling of all its cases. It is a very sad day for San Francisco judges and commissioners who work tirelessly to ensure that their cases are fairly and promptly handled. It is a very sad day for the lawyers who have championed the appropriate funding of the judicial branch. And, it is a very sad day for all Californians, to learn that their beloved City by the Bay, home of the State Supreme Court, will now suffer the hardship of these layoffs and court closures.
“Access to justice becomes a meaningless phrase when courthouses are closed; courtrooms are shuttered; fewer bench officers are available to hear cases; and far fewer staff must process those cases.”
Davis said he would contact the presiding judges of other courts in the Bay Area, asking them to hire “these fine judicial officers” who “would immediately bring great talent and ability to their courts.”
He added that he would “immediately share with Governor Brown that he should strongly consider for judicial appointment those San Francisco Superior Court Commissioners who are being laid off,” saying “they should be at the top of any judicial appointments list.”
With the state in financial crisis and the need to establish a new appointments machinery after assuming office six months ago, Brown has yet to appoint a single judge. Topping the list of positions to be filled is the state Supreme Court seat that Justice Carlos Moreno retired from in February.
A source close to the situation, but not authorized to speak publicly, said Brown recently appointed a “secret committee” to vet appointments in Los Angeles County.
That effort could be complicated, however, by the pendency of AB 126, by Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles. The bill would require the governor to disclose the identities of all persons, outside of his staff, who advise him on judicial appointments.
The bill passed the Assembly in May by a vote of 48-27 and is now before the Senate.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company