By Bay City News Service
Ongoing state budget cuts to trial courts are to blame for San Mateo County having to cut as many as 25 positions and close five courtrooms in its San Mateo and South San Francisco and branches, the Superior Court of San
Mateo County announced Wednesday.
The reductions include the elimination of five court commissioner positions, as many as 21 staff positions, the closure of five courtrooms and suspending the majority of court services in the South San Francisco and San Mateo branches, according to Court Executive Officer John Fitton.
Should trial court funding not be restored the elimination of the court commissioners could happen in July and the remaining workforce reductions are slated for September.
The latest round of cuts is just another blow to an already tightened trial court budget in San Mateo County. The county has so far reduced its workforce by more than 30 percent and made several reductions in many areas including clerk hours, traffic and small claims, family court and complex litigation court in Redwood City.
"This is unprecedented, and we've been saying this since 2008 and
it continues to get worse," Fitton said.
Trial courts throughout the state have suffered state budget cuts
of more than $1 billion over the past five years. Courts throughout the state
are being forced to severely cut costs, in some cases shut down entire
courthouses, not just courtrooms.
Presiding Judge Robert D. Foiles said it is "extremely disappointing" that the governor's January budget fails to restore vital funding to the trial courts.
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