Friday, March 15, 2013
Superior Court Consolidation Continues Amidst Rally, Lawsuit
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court officials yesterday announced the latest changes in court operations under their consolidation plan, as opponents of the plan stepped up their campaign against it.
Marchers demonstrate displeasure with Superior Court’s plan to close courthouses and reassign cases at a union-spearheaded rally yesterday afternoon.
In public notices, the court said that beginning next month, all general jurisdiction, non-personal injury cases now being heard at San Pedro will be moved to Long Beach; all such cases now being heard at Pasadena will be moved to Glendale or Burbank; and all non-Antelope Valley probate cases will be moved to the Stanley Mosk courthouse downtown.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in front of, and around, the Mosk courthouse yesterday with signs urging “Save Our Courts” and “Jobs Not Cuts.” The rally was sponsored by a union representing court reporters and court service workers, as well as other labor and community groups.
Court officials have publicly sympathized with workers and users, and have pledged to do all they can to minimize layoffs. But they say they have little choice, given budget mandates and an $85 million revenue shortfall.
Advocates, however, including those who organized yesterday’s rally and others who filed suit in federal court Wednesday, fault those officials for failing to seek public input into their plan.
The lawsuit, brought by four legal services groups, contends that the plan to move all eviction cases to five “hub” courts— Pasadena, Long Beach, Lancaster, Mosk, and Santa Monica—violates several federal laws, including the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans With Disabilities. Tenants who lack personal mobility and/or transportation cannot be expected to travel long distances to get to court, the plaintiffs say.
They cite in particular the San Fernando Valley, home to huge numbers of tenants and disabled persons who would have to travel to Santa Monica or Pasadena, despite the lack of an “adequate public transit route.” Because many of these people will not have lawyers and the deadlines in these cases are tight, the plaintiffs said, they will have to make the trip twice, first to file pleadings and later for trial.
The complaint names Presiding Judge David Wesley, Gov. Jerry Brown, and Executive Officer/Clerk John Clarke as defendants. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee.
The schedule of next month’s changes is as follows:
•Beginning April 8, general jurisdiction civil, non-personal injury cases that would now be filed in Pasadena must be filed in either Glendale or Burbank. Pending cases will be reassigned, and attorneys and parties in those cases will be notified.
•Beginning April 15, general jurisdiction civil, non-personal injury cases that would now be filed in San Pedro must be filed in Long Beach. Pending cases will be reassigned, and attorneys and parties in those cases will be notified.
•Beginning April 8, all new, non-Antelope Valley cases arising under the Probate Code must be filed at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. This represents a change from Tuesday’s statement by Supervising Judge Mitchell Beckloff, reported in Wednesday’s MetNews, that mandated downtown filings would not begin until May 8.
On June 10, as stated Tuesday by Beckloff, all probate cases pending anywhere other than the Central or North districts will be transferred to Dept. 29 at the Mosk courthouse, with no change in hearing date or time. Petitioners in those cases will be notified, the court said, and will be responsible for notice to the other parties.
Information on the changes in court locations can be found online at lasuperiorcourt.org under the section entitled Consolidation Plan.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company