Monday, March 5, 2012
Superior Court to Lay Off 300, Close Courtrooms—Sources
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Superior Court will announce this week that it is laying off 300 employees, closing more than 50 courtrooms, and making major changes in how it handles juvenile traffic offenses, but will not close any courthouses, sources told the METNEWS Friday.
No Commissioner Layoffs Expected
The 300 layoffs were said to be effective June 30, the end of the fiscal year. A judicial officer, who was not authorized to speak for the court and asked for anonymity, said that no commissioners would lose their jobs, but that some referees would.
A call to Presiding Judge Lee Edmon was returned by a court spokesperson, who said officials—who met earlier last week—were not yet ready to announce details of their budget plan for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year. But that announcement might come as early as today, the spokesperson said.
Gwendolyn Jones, presiding of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 575, which represents the court’s clerks and paralegals, said she was aware of rumored layoffs and closings, and was expecting to hear from Executive Officer/Clerk John A. Clark or from Edmon, but that they had not contacted her as of late Friday afternoon.
A spokesperson for Service Employees International Union Local 732, which represents court services assistants, court reporters, court supervisors, and administrative assistants—did not return a phone call seeking comment. Edmon and Clark informed judicial officers and staff last August that 1,000 layoffs were anticipated between the end of the fiscal year and April 2014.
The Legislature cut Fiscal Year 2011-2012 funding for the judicial branch by $350 million, leading to a statewide cut of 6.7 percent for the trial courts.
While the local court, which laid off 329 employees in 2010, was able to avoid layoffs for the current fiscal year, Clark and Edmon said in their memo last summer that the court would “do business in the future with a dramatically reduced budget.”
Edmon and Clark said at the time they were “working at the state level to continue to ensure that trial court operations are the top funding priority for the judicial branch,” and pursuing efforts “toward reducing the cuts” already in place and to relieve the court of some of its statutory mandates.
“But in the end, it will fall upon us to make the difficult choices of which services we must compromise in order to deliver on our core obligations,” they said.
The budget crisis “may be our greatest challenge ever,” Edmon and Clarke concluded, but “[o]ne way or another, together we will continue to make justice available to those who need it.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company