California’s budget woes and the impact on the California courts

Recently, I attended a brown bag lunch program with Presiding Judge Thomas Borris and Judge Robert Moss, put on by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association at the Orange County courthouse.

The head judges spoke at length about the precarious financial position of the courts, and how they may be forced to make substantial cuts, including cuts to security and even closing the courthouse doors two days each month. In this type of scenario, they said criminal cases would take precedence, meaning this would create (or add to) the backlog of civil cases, as dates are pushed further out due to scarce resources.

One measure they expect to help reduce the impact of the budget crisis is the rollout of the California Case Management System (CCMS), which they are working to roll out statewide. The CCMS system will be tested in San Diego County, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties in an effort to work out any bugs.

The Orange County courts are officially paperless, and are requiring all cases in the Complex Civil category be e-filed. They are actively encouraging e-filing in all matters makes the courts more efficient brings in funding to the courts. They hope to open up the CCMS to bar members in the near future, an exact date for this is unknown due to the uncertainty for the budgets in the 2011/2012 fiscal year. With this system, attorneys will have access to case documents, dockets, pleadings, etc., statewide. Currently, the state has contracted with One Legal to support e-filing in Orange County, though an additional vendor is expected to be added soon.

Based on the perspective from Orange County, our neighbors in Los Angeles County are in far worse shape, where courthouse closures are possible (though none have been announced).

In light of this uncertainty, Santoni Investigations can help you meet the needs of the court, with electronic submission as all of our reports, proofs of service and declarations are securely stored in electronic format for ease of transmission. We can also help with expedited service of process (particularly in the case of difficult subjects) and filings to meet statutory filing requirements.

We plan on keeping you updated as any news breaks with regard to proposed budgets and how they will affect the court system throughout the state of California.

Tim Santoni, President (Email me)