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L.A. County courts to close 1 day a month

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2009/05/20 10:45

Los Angeles County Superior Court officials announced Tuesday they would shut down court operations one day a month and furlough employees to address a projected $90-million shortfall caused by the state's continuing budget crisis.

The county's 600 courtrooms and all court services including traffic matters will be closed the third Wednesday of each month, starting July 15, saving about $18 million annually, court officials said. Chief Justice Ronald George of the California Supreme Court is considering taking the monthly closures statewide, officials said.

If the financial situation does not improve, the courts could eventually lay off as many as 1,300 employees, or a quarter of the workforce, in the next four years, said Charles "Tim" McCoy, presiding judge of the county's court system. Such cuts would lead to total closure of some courthouses and massive cuts in court services, he said.

"The justice system provides public safety. That system needs to be operating five days a week," McCoy said at a news conference. The monthly closure plan, he said, "puts the public at some risk."

McCoy said a handful of courtrooms would remain open on the furlough days to handle emergency matters. He said he anticipated a backlog of cases to build up as a result of the closures.


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