The largest superior court in the United States has announced the closure of 50 courtrooms from Long Beach to Lancaster due to budget shortfalls which will affect many in the civil justice system, given the priorities given to criminal cases. Now many of you will say, "who cares?" but these closures will mean that those who need child support, spousal support, and other remedies that readily affect their lives will have to wait months for relief. Processing simple legal procedures will be further delayed by the layoff of some 300 court employees, delaying the issuance of writs and documents needed by business to collect monies owed to them. The courts are not the haven of soft jobs where judges just dawn their robes and discuss the law with attorneys and litigants. For example the Judges at the North Valley Civil Branch in Chatsworth have caseloads exceeding 600 cases each. These caseloads do not include civil harassment and domestic violence cases, eviction cases, small claims, and traffic matters. Ventura County closed its East County civil division in Simi on February 1 and may close their family law division in July, 2012. The judges work very hard not only to administer justice, but to ensure that rights of litigants are protected, so these are not cushy jobs. The clerks work hard as well trying to ensure that documents are processed correctly. The point here is that justice delayed is justice denied, especially if you are trying to gain custody of your children, enforce your support orders, or trying to obtain emergency relief. Courts are also congested will thousands of collection and foreclosure cases arising from the Recession of 2007-2008. Are we courting disaster? Yes, because the courts not only administer justice, but also collect money for municipalities as well. The judicial officers and court clerks will do their best, but are budget cuts justified when it comes to our rights or are we going to settle?
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