Thursday, June 13, 2013


Although the news that Los Angeles County will be eliminating more than 500 jobs tomorrow, June 14, 2013 should come as no shock to anyone who has been keeping up with the news about the budget cuts to the court systems across the State of California, the fact that over 900 jobs have been lost, cut back to part-time or reassigned just in L.A. County over the past year is just outrageous.

Branson-Potts' article in the L.A. Times this week gives the problem focus.  In particular, family law and probate litigants will be finding the already difficult scene of trying to get a critical matter heard, resolve a crisis, take care of our children, find money to pay the bills, etc., simply appalling. For the attorneys, this ongoing problem merely underlines the difficulties and unpleasantness that colors our already dismal practice of family law and probate in Los Angeles County. What ever lies ahead will be for the new generation of lawyers to implement and make their own.  I hope they will come up with a way to bear the burden that does not burn them out and create unnecessary stress in their lives. For people like me, in practice over 30 years, we are in a holding pattern trying to survive the storm, help our clients find alternatives to litigation, assist the judicial officers in their overwhelming position of impossibility by helping them to steer a straighter course for the benefit of the humanity that comes before them every day.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court plans to eliminate more than 500 jobs by the end of the week in a sweeping cost-cutting plan to close a projected $85-million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

On Friday, layoff notices will be hand-delivered to employees as 511 court positions are eliminated. While some positions will simply go unfilled, 177 people will lose their jobs, court officials announced Tuesday.

An additional 139 people will receive demotions and pay cuts, and 223 people will be transferred to new work locations, officials said.

Including this round of cuts, the court has lost nearly 900 employees since 2008, according to Mary Hearn, a court spokeswoman.

The courts are funded by the state, which has slashed funding in recent years, leading to court closures, higher court fees and longer waits for cases to be heard.

The governor agreed this week, as part of a deal with legislators, to restore $63 million to the courts in the budget that will take effect July 1.

But the additional funds -- of which L.A. County should receive about a third -- will not stop the cuts in L.A. County Superior Court, said David Wesley, the presiding judge.

"We are glad that restoration of trial court funding has begun," Wesley said in a statement. "But it is a shame that it is too little, too late, to stop the awful reductions in access to justice that state funding cuts have brought."

For years, the Los Angeles County court system prided itself on providing full-service "neighborhood courts" across the county, Wesley said. But, he said, the budget cuts mean the system simply does not have the resources to continue to provide the same level of services.

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