About 20 local judges joined a rally on the Sacramento courthouse steps Wednesday to protest the governor’s budget move to reduce state judiciary funding by $544 million. The judges joined defense, prosecution and civil lawyers, as well as courthouse employees, to voice opposition to the court budget cuts.
Speaker after speaker envisioned legal doomsday if the cut goes 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. 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.