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Chief Justice: Service Cuts May ‘Fundamentally’ Change Calif. Courts

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — As California struggles to regain its financial footing, the budget axe could soon fall on the state’s justice system.

Leaders of California’s judicial branch met on Friday to discuss how to cope with another budget cut of $350 million, the latest blow to a court system that has absorbed multiple cuts in the last several years.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told KNX 1070 the courts are “at a fundamental tipping point”.

“Frankly, I believe that we have been in the position of a tipping point for the last four years because we’ve seen consecutive cuts to the judicial branch budget,” said Cantil-Sakauye.

The rollback in court services — which are “branch cuts” as opposed to cuts exclusively to trial courts — has the potential to “fundamentally” change the structure of the court system, she said.

While expanded furloughs will likely be approved, individual jurisdictions will be responsible for applying and implement those service cuts.

“For some courts, for example, it may mean closing the public counter an hour early, for others it may mean layoffs, furloughs,” said said Cantil-Sakauye. “For yet others, because they have fiscally managed their budget well for the last four years, it may little change.”

The California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and other courts are entering their third year of consecutive mandatory furloughs.

said Cantil-Sakauye.

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