Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Civil Filing Fees to Increase Monday to Fund Child Waiting Rooms at Six Courthouses
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court civil filing fees will go up by two dollars beginning Monday to raise funds for children’s waiting rooms in six courthouses under an action yesterday by the county Board of Supervisors.
When completed, the staffed waiting rooms will offer adults who must appear in family court or other civil proceedings a place other than courthouse hallways to leave their children.
The increases were approved unanimously following a hearing at which no one signed up to testify.
The rooms are being constructed and staffing is being contracted out under a pilot project launched by the board a year ago and outlined by the county Judicial Procedures Commission. County officials have targeted eight additional courthouses for rooms, but funding for them currently is unavailable.
The fee increases apply to first-paper filing fees in Superior Court civil, family and probate matters and will make the new cost of filing a lawsuit or other proceeding $196. The cost of filing an answer will be $193.
Lower filing fees will continue to apply to “limited” jurisdiction cases—$101 for matters of over $10,000, except for unlawful detainers, which will be $105; $94 for matters under $10,000, and $91 to answer.
The increased fees will go toward staffing waiting rooms in the Mosk, Pomona, Compton, Airport and Van Nuys courthouses. An additional $1 increase will take effect Jan. 1, 2004 and will pay for waiting rooms in the Torrance and Antelope Valley courthouses.
A waiting room in the Long Beach Courthouse already has been funded by Proposition 10, the tobacco tax initiative approved in 1998. The contractor—For the Child—joined with county Supervisor Don Knabe’s office to pay for the necessary construction.
Contracting procedures have begun for staffing the other five courthouses in the program this year.
Many parents bring their children to court because they cannot afford daycare of babysitters. But children often are not allowed in the courtrooms, because they can become restless and disruptive, or because they are witnesses in a family law case, or because the subject of the proceeding is simply unsuitable for a child.
Children currently sit unattended on the benches in the courthouse hallways. Sometimes bailiffs or court security staff keep an eye on them, but they have other duties inside the courtroom.
Excess revenues from the fee increases, if any, will go into a special fund for additional waiting rooms.
The increases are specifically authorized for child waiting room funding under Govt. Code Sec. 26826.3.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company