Proposal seeks to close courts monthly


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A proposal by the staff of the Judicial Council, the governing body of the California court system, suggests closing superior courts in each county on the third Wednesday of each month.

The 27-member council is meeting at the State Building in San Francisco today and will vote on the plan this afternoon.

The council was given authority to select a once-per-month closure day in an emergency law passed by the Legislature during its budget session.

The law says the state's dire fiscal crisis "threatens the continued operation of the judicial branch" and requires a "unique response" to use judicial resources effectively while protecting public access to the courts as much as possible.

The staff report being considered by the council says the closure will save $85 million out of $190 million in budget cuts that must be absorbed by the state court system.

The closure would be in effect from September until the end of the fiscal year in June, but would be reconsidered by the council in January.

The report says that no one day is convenient for all courts and a number of options were considered, including closing Southern California courts on one Wednesday per month and Northern California courts on a Friday.

But the report says that closing all courts statewide on the same day each month would be the least disruptive approach and would provide "a higher level of predictability for court users."

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