Our civil justice system is in jeopardy.
Governor Jerry Brown released this week a revised $91-billion budget proposal that would cut funding for many major state programs, including the court system. These cuts are not new for the California legal system, as state courts have already been dealing with a $650 million cut in the last three years alone, which amounts to a 30 percent reduction of its general funding. As it remains, the proposed budget would slash court funding by another $544 million. These reductions greatly strain the functionality of the courts, as there can be no construction of new courthouses, as well as the closing of many existing ones.
Court services in the past have also been drastically scaled back due to lack of funding: many special court programs dealing with vulnerable groups will cease to exist, employees will be laid off, and more public services will be cut.
For the average Californian, this means increasing difficulty in accessing the courts due to judicial backlogs and furloughs. It is imperative that the state realizes the gravity of the situation and see how these cuts are limiting the courts’ ability to serve the public and provide equal justice.
What is the solution?