Crime & Justice

LA Superior Court announces 330 layoffs, plans to shutter courtrooms

The presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court announced today the layoffs of 330 employees, along with plans to shutter courtrooms to help cope with a $79 million budget shortfall.

The cutbacks are expected to be the first wave, with more job cuts and courtroom closures anticipated in six months.

Ahead for the public are more courtroom closures, delays and longer lines, Presiding Judge Charles "Tim'' McCoy said.

"When you cut this deep into the workforce of this court, the system must ultimately wear down,'' McCoy said.

A total of 17 courtrooms countywide are being closed, with nearly half that number in the downtown civil courthouse, McCoy said. The layoffs are taking seniority into consideration, as required by union contracts, and could grow to 500 by September, he said.

McCoy urged state lawmakers to temporarily redirect money reserved by the Legislature for new courthouse construction and computer systems to the saving of employee jobs.

"It is a question of priorities,'' McCoy said. "We must keep our existing courthouses and courtrooms open and operating. We hope the folks in Sacramento and San Francisco are listening.''

McCoy said he supported the courthouse and computer improvement efforts – which are being financed by bonds – but that he had to take another look at matters after "the tsunami that has hit us in recent years.''

The judge said the only good news is that courthouse judges and their staff are continuing to strive to be more efficient.

The Superior Court system last summer implemented once-monthly furlough days, shutting the bulk of the court system in an effort to save $18 million a year. Another furlough day is scheduled for Wednesday. But even with those furlough days, the court system is expected to face deficits of more than $130 million in coming years.

The Los Angeles Superior Court is the nation's largest trial court system, with 600 courtrooms in 50 courthouses throughout the county.