California Courts Forced To Furlough

October 30, 2009

The ongoing budget crisis in California – projected to grow to more than $28 billion by the end of 2009 – has affected virtually every aspect of doing business in the state, and the Ventura County Courts have not escaped the budget axe.

Over the last several months, California courts have instituted historical reforms to address the economic challenges. This summer, the clerk’s office at the Ventura County Superior Court began to close at 4:00 p.m. everyday. The only services available after 4:00 p.m. are now jury services and collections. On top of that, just a few weeks ago, the state took the drastic step of simply closing for an entire day, once a month. Now, every court in the state is closed on the third Wednesday of every month. The closures are scheduled to last until the end of the state’s fiscal year, or in June 2010.

The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court acknowledged that the furlough days are unprecedented, but deemed necessary as the only “rational option available” to reduce the budget. In addition to the closures, the state has also increased court filing fees across the board as a way of raising revenue.

The closures – although they sound fairly benign – have a real affect on our law practice on a day-to-day basis. There was initial confusion about what affect the furlough day would have on filing deadlines, and these deadlines are now more carefully scrutinized. In the conservatorship area in particular, a court closure day results in delay in gaining protection for a senior who has been the victim of financial or physical abuse, or the filing of a petition to secure public benefits for a disabled person or child who needs public assistance. The same holds true for victims of domestic violence seeking restraining orders, and a wide variety of other persons simply looking to the courts to carry out their most fundamental role – to seek justice.

At A-Z, our attorneys and staff stay informed about all the most recent developments in the court system. If any of these developments affect the handling of a client’s matter, the client can be assured that it will be handled in the most timely fashion. If you want more information about the furlough days, please let one of our attorneys or staff know, and we will be happy to discuss it with you.