Monday, August 27, 2001
Supervising Judge Says Plan to Consolidate Burbank, Glendale Courts Not as Drastic as Critics Say
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
North Central District Supervising Judge Carl West Friday said a Los Angeles Superior Court plan to consolidate all criminal cases at the Burbank Courthouse and all civil cases in Glendale is not as drastic as critics are making it out to be.
Responding to outcry by officials from both cities about the plan, West said the idea of the two community courthouses serving their own cities instead of the district as a whole was “a thing of the past” and the district would be better served by the change.
The Daily News of Los Angeles reported last week that city officials were unhappy with the proposed plan and were urging Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes both courthouses, to intervene.
“People need to take a step back and take a hard look at the impacts this proposed plan might have on the police departments, local attorneys and the community,” Glendale City Attorney Scott Howard was quoted as telling the Daily News.
Howard was unavailable Friday for comment.
A spokesman for Antonovich said he is still in the talking stages with city officials and it would be premature to comment.
“We don’t want to do something that the community doesn’t want, but we want to give the best service we can,” West told the MetNews. “A lot of times there is a knee-jerk reaction to change and in this case I think it is inappropriate.”
Currently criminal cases originating in the two cities are handled in their respective courthouses, while civil cases are divided between the two, West said.
The proposed change would transfer all criminal cases to Burbank while civil matters would be heard in Glendale.
West said a decision on the proposed plan would probably be made in the next 30 days, but implementation is not expected for at least another four months.
Traffic and municipal ordinance violations, however, would remain in the city where they occurred and unlawful detainers would continue to be heard in Burbank.
“We are just trying to make the best use of our facilities,” West said.
In terms of amenities, West said, there is no comparison between the two, with Burbank’s newly refurbished and expanded courthouse and Glendale’s nearly 50-year-old building. West called Glendale’s custody facilities “not appropriate for custody.”
Burbank offers state-of-the-art lock-up, ample parking, a jury assembly room and a sally port — an enclosed area where inmates can be transferred to and from Sheriff’s Department buses.
West said Burbank’s lock-up is underutilized, averaging only 10 to 12 suspects a day when it has a capacity of 125, while Glendale’s custody facilities are overused.
Judges serving in the two courthouses are generally supportive of the change, West said.
“Most of them recognize and believe it would be more efficient,” he said. “We would be able to better utilize our judge power.”
West said he has also been discussing the issue with the Burbank and Glendale chiefs of police along with the city attorneys from both cities for the past several months in anticipation of the change.
Concerns about the Sheriff’s release policy, which releases suspects directly from the courthouse building, are also being exaggerated, he said.
Critics have raised concerns that the criminal consolidation would increase the number of criminals in the Burbank area.
Burbank averages two to four such releases a week while Glendale sees 10.
“Ten a week is two a day,” West said. “We’re not talking about releasing a large amount of criminals into the area.
City officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company