7:39 PM: A state judicial agency voted in San Francisco today to close all California courts for one day per month in response to the state’s budget crisis.

The plan was unanimously approved by the 21 voting members of the state Judicial Council, the governing body of the California court system, at a meeting on court budgets.

Chief Justice Ronald George, who chairs the council, said, “It is with the greatest regret that we have to be at this point, where we’re considering court closure as a last resort.”

The closures will occur on the third Wednesday of each month and will apply to all state courts, including the trial-level superior courts of 58 counties, six appeals courts and the California Supreme Court.

Council staff member Ronald Overholt, who helped to prepare a report proposing the plan, said, “We’re all reluctant to do it, we all hate it,” but said the move was necessary in view of “the huge deficit that was handed to us this year.”

The council was given authority to select a once-per-month closure day in the budget law passed by the Legislature last week.

The group’s staff report said the closure will save $85 million out of $190 million in budget cuts that must be absorbed by the state court system.

The shut-downs will begin in September and continue until the end of the fiscal year in June, but will be reconsidered by the council in January.

The report said that no one day is convenient for all courts and a number of options were considered, including closing Southern California courts on one Wednesday per month and Northern California courts on a Friday.

But the report said closing all courts on the same day each month would be the least disruptive approach and would provide “consistency among all state courts and a higher level of predictability for the benefit of court users.”

As on holidays and weekends, one judge in each court would be available on closure days to sign emergency orders.

11:59 AM: A state judicial agency is slated to vote in San Francisco today on a plan to close trial courts in all 58 California counties for one day per month in response to the state’s budget crisis.

A proposal by the staff of the Judicial Council, the governing body of the California court system, suggests closing superior courts in each county on the third Wednesday of each month.

The 27-member council is meeting at the State Building in San Francisco today and will vote on the plan this afternoon.

The council was given authority to select a once-per-month closure day in an emergency law passed by the Legislature during its budget session.

The law says the state’s dire fiscal crisis “threatens the continued operation of the judicial branch” and requires a “unique response” to use judicial resources effectively while protecting public access to the courts as much as possible.

The staff report being considered by the council says the closure will save $85 million out of $190 million in budget cuts that must be absorbed by the state court system.

The closure would be in effect from September until the end of the fiscal year in June, but would be reconsidered by the council in January.

The report says that no one day is convenient for all courts and a number of options were considered, including closing Southern California courts on one Wednesday per month and Northern California courts on a Friday.

But the report says that closing all courts statewide on the same day each month would be the least disruptive approach and would provide “a higher level of predictability for court users.”

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  • parallax44

    If your going to take away work from the court people, why do it on Wednesdays? At least give them threeday weekends and not cut a week in half. This is insult to injury.