Fifty-six civil and 24 criminal courtrooms will close on June 30 in 10 courthouses as $30 million is slashed from the Los Angeles County court system.
The Chatsworth Courthouse does not appear to be on the hit list.
The targeted courthouses are in Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles (Kenyon Juvenile), Beverly Hills, San Pedro (the main courthouse and Beacon Street annex) and Catalina, according to The Recorder, a legal website. In addition, 431 employees will be laid off. However, the courthouses will continue to handle some administrative matters like ticket payments, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the court is launching a major restructuring to prepare for a 2013-14 deficit that could reach $80 million, The Recorder reported.
Union representatives stood outside a downtown courthouse wearing stickers that said, "Justice has left the building."
In October, Mary Hearn, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Superior Court, warned that civil and small claims caseloads would be consolidated from the San Fernando courthouse to Chatsworth to centralize court’s resources.
Presiding Judge Edmon and Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley told the Associated Press that the nation's largest court system will also eliminate court reporters for civil cases.
Civil litigants will be required to hire their own stenographers if they want to preserve the court record, the Associated Press reported.
"We sincerely regret having to reduce our services to the public," said Edmon, who predicted longer delays in getting civil cases to trial and administrative problems for judges who must share courtrooms and staff.
"Some judges may have to take notes on the evidence," Edmon told the Associated Press.
"Could we be heading toward five year delays getting to trial?" Edmon asked. "I certainly think so."
Although 24 criminal courtrooms are among those to close, Judge Lance Ito, who presided over the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995, will handle complex, lengthy trials.
"He's a utility player for us," Wesley told the Associated Press. "There are not many people that can handle every kind of case. ... When we need him, we know he will step in."
"It's devastating to the court system and it's going to be a sea change in how we do our business," Edmon told the Times.
"Unfortunately, there are going to be longer lines in each of our courthouses and great delays throughout the system."
-- City News Service, the Associated Press, The Recorder, the Los Angeles Times and KHTS radio contributed to this report.