Sunday, June 17, 2012

California judges rally to stop funding cuts

Recently in California about 20 Superor Court judges chanted the old Cesar Chavez slogan, loosely translated to mean "Yes, we can," in a noontime rally where they joined defense, prosecution and civil lawyers, as well as courthouse employees, to voice opposition to state omposedthe court budget cuts, reported the Sacramento Bee.

Speaker after speaker envisioned legal doomsday if the cuts go through. They said divorces will not be filed, small claims matters will go unheard, battered spouses seeking restraining orders will not get them, and children in need of foster care services will be left at risk.

Already in Sacramento, court officials have sent layoff notices to 48 employees, mostly low-seniority workers in the interior reaches of the clerks' offices. Local officials have prepared to shut down small claims court four days a week, reported the Bee. New court filings are likely to be dumped in a drop box and stamped only when a clerk is available, posing a risk of delay in the processing of the legal documents.

"The crisis in court funding threatens our justice system to a degree that none of us has ever seen before in our lives, to such an extent that the very rule of law is imperiled," State Bar President Jon Streeter told the Bee.

Streeter said the crisis is "escalating by the hour." With a glance over his shoulder, Streeter announced, "We are looking at these doors being shut." It appears, he said, "We are abandoning our dedication to justice."

According to the Bee, the proposed court-funding reductions had adversaries sitting side by side at Wednesday's rally at the top of the steps overlooking the courthouse fountain on Ninth Street. The District Attorney and Public Defender shared space, as did the president of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the president of the California Defense Counsel, which takes up the cause of business and corporate interests in civil litigation.

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