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Budget Cuts Force County Court Streamlining

Role of Walnut Creek Courthouse on Ygnacio Valley Road will change in adjustments for Contra Costa County Superior Court procedures.

Contra Costa County Superior Court would be forced slash public services in response to multimillion-dollar state budget cuts, county officials announced Friday.

As part of the court's budget plan for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, adopted Tuesday, the court will close six courtrooms, and limit court reporting and interpreter services and plans to either consolidate or eliminate specialty courts such as Domestic Violence Court and Homeless Court, among other major cuts, according to court officials.

By the end of the year, Walnut Creek Courthouse will only hear traffic cases under the new budget and will shift criminal, small claims, domestic violence and other cases to Martinez, Pittsburg or Richmond.

Prompted by California's budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the county court's budget plan reduces the court's operating budget by $7 million, officials said.

"Since the state has cut the court's budget and taken $8 million of its reserves, the court can no longer maintain its current public service levels," a court statement said.

The state cuts have reduced the court's budget by about 25 percent, prompting a series of meetings last month among court leaders, staff, police, attorneys, government officials and the public, court officials said. Public input during those meetings influenced the newly adopted financial plan, according to the court's statement.

Under the new budget, starting Oct. 1, the court clerk's office will cut its hours and be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., to give staff time to catch up on backlogged court papers, officials said.

Effective Oct. 22, family law cases now heard in Pittsburg courtrooms will be sent to Martinez. A similar transfer of juvenile law cases from the Richmond courthouse to Martinez will take effect Dec. 31, meaning a 40-plus-mile round trip for many West County residents.

Court interpreters for non-English speakers in the county's domestic violence and family courts will be limited depending on the availability of grant funding, starting Dec. 31.

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Earl Richards September 03, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Brown is blackmailing Californians. Why does Brown always pick-on the most vulnerable, education and the public services? Brown should close commercial and corporate tax loopholes, introduce an oil extraction tax, an oil corporation, windfall-profts tax, Chevron of San Ramon, made $27 billions in 2011, and trim the service -debt paid to Wall Street. These taxes have to be rolled-back. These budget cuts will prolong the recession. Brown is a corporate creature, who is working for the big corporations and not for the people who elected him. The High-Speed Rail project should be put-off, until the budget is balanced.
Beau Hunk September 03, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Earl, did you ever hear about California's public employee unions? Do you think Brown may be working for them instead of working for big corporations?
Earl Richards September 03, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Working for both.
Beau Hunk September 03, 2012 at 10:50 PM
It's interesting to encounter a mind that can believe two diametrically opposed concepts at the same time. It's kind of a simultaneous "A is A" and "A is not A" structure living in the same brain. Fascinating...

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