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San Diego Superior Courts Could Lose 200 Additional Staff From Budget Cuts

San Diego County Court Cuts
How Are San Diego Superior Courts Affected By Budget Cuts?
GUEST: David Danielsen, San Diego Superior Court assistant presiding judge

The budget signed this summer by Governor Jerry Brown cut more than $500 million from California courts. That trickles down to a $14 million cut to the San Diego Superior Court. The first reductions in service were introduced last week in courts from the North County to downtown San Diego.

David Danielsen, a San Diego Superior Court presiding judge, told KPBS Midday Edition that the amount of work the courts face is the same, but there are fewer staff members to handle it.

"Right now it's a time of shift and change," he said. "Probably from the public's point of view, a little bit of confusion, because things are being rerouted and the normal work patterns are being disrupted."

Danielsen said staff cuts "come on the back of a 17 percent vacancy rate at the courts anyhow," caused by years of not filling open positions and other cuts.

He said over this fiscal year, San Diego courts will lose 200 additional employees.

All San Diego Superior Court business offices now close at noon on Fridays, which means people won't be able to visit the business offices.

Seven courtrooms will also be shuttered, which means each remaining courtroom will be handling more cases, he said.

Judges from those shuttered courtrooms will be "reassigned elsewhere," but clerks could be laid off, Danielsen said.

North County Probate operations also closed and all matters were consolidated with and relocated to the Central Division Probate Court located at 1409 Fourth Ave. In addition, one Juvenile Dependency courtroom in North County has closed.

The Ramona court facility is now closed, and all case matters have been relocated to the East County Division Courthouse on Main Street in El Cajon.

Claire Trageser and City News Service contributed to this report.