Los Angeles Superior Court leaders announced on Tuesday that they will close most courthouses’ doors and furlough employees once a month starting July 15.
The court is facing a $90 million shortfall in the upcoming year, and layoffs may be unavoidable in coming years if the situation doesn’t improve, Presiding Judge Charles McCoy said in a press release issued late Tuesday.
“We cannot allow denial, false hope or wishful thinking to cause us to drift through the crisis,” McCoy said. “We should expect things will grow increasingly difficult before they begin to get better. We must, and will, remain masters of our own destiny to the extent possible.”
More on the court’s last resort, after the jump.
Courts would close on the third Wednesday of each month. The closures will save $18 million a year, the press release said.
Los Angeles’ announcement comes as the Judicial Council is lobbying the Legislature for a statewide courts closure plan, and it’s unclear when they were informed about L.A.’s move. The decision appeared to take many in the Capitol — focused on Tuesday’s election — by surprise. McCoy said his court can’t wait for statewide action.
“We are the largest and most complex court system in the United States,” McCoy said. “You cannot suddenly bring a system like ours to a halt. This must be orderly and planned and that takes time.”
Calls to a court spokesman and to Curt Child, the Judicial Council’s chief lobbyist, were not immediately returned.
Courthouses that also house prosecutors, public defenders and other county operations will stay open. Some courtrooms will stay open for emergency work. Employees who must work on closure days will take furlough days at another time, the statement said. Judges have been told to rearrange their calendars.
Michelle Castro, a lobbyist with the Service Employees International Union, said in an email that court leaders have been negotiating with labor groups and notified labor leaders before issuing Tuesday’s statement.
Willie Pelote, a lobbyist with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents a smaller number of court workers than SEIU, said he had not heard of the closure plans.
— Cheryl Miller
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