Is CCMS on the chopping block?
It's a question a lot of people in the judiciary are asking these days as they try to predict how branch leaders will allocate $350 million in budget cuts. The state already drained most of the state's construction funds, so that option's out. That leaves the troubled Court Case Management System.
In a May report, issued before the branch knew the full extent of state budget cuts, the Administrative Office of the Courts told the Legislature that it intended to spend about $125 million on CCMS in the 2011-12 fiscal year. The AOC did not, however, say where that money was going to come from. In previous years two trial court accounts have supplied the bulk of that money. You can bet trial court leaders will clamor for any available money from those funds to go to local courts, not CCMS.
The trial lawyers also may have signalled possible budget plans for the branch. In a message sent to its members today, the Consumer Attorneys of California -- a regular party to branch budget talks -- said new or increased court user fees "are on the table."
"Among the ideas – eliminating the refund of jury fees or requiring the posting of such fees at an earlier date in the run-up to trial," the message said.
Mandatory statewide courthouse closures don't seem to be in the cards although some local courts may "be forced into periodic shutdowns," the trial lawyers said.