SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 20 (LID) – California’s years of budget woes have taken a toll on the state’s courts system, Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye said in an address this week to a joint session of the Legislature.
The California judicial branch, which includes 58 county-level trial courts, six appellate courts and the state’s Supreme Court, has had a quarter of its budget cut since 2008, Cantil-Sakauye noted in her State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers.
Roughly $653 million in cuts have closed courtrooms in two dozen counties and resulted in layoffs and reduced business hours across the Golden State.
“We are already seeing worrisome and potentially dangerous delays in the resolution of cases,” Cantil-Sakauye said Monday.
California Superior Court filings last year exceeded 10 million, for the second consecutive year, she noted.
In her address to members of the state Assembly and Senate, she reminded lawmakers that the state’s judicial branch is a co-equal arm of government.
“We need a strong, inclusive, independent, impartial state judicial branch and a statewide platform to consider the needs of all Californians and to balance the many competing interests found in our branch,” she said. “Local courts and judges are eloquent and effective advocates for their local needs — as they should be. But the Judicial Council serves statewide concerns, just as the Legislature addresses issues of broad impact while cities and counties address those closer to home.”
Cantil-Sakauye, the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice, was nominated to lead the state’s courts system by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in November 2010. She was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2011.
A transcript of the chief justice’s address is available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/17301.htm.