Starting 2009, to reduce the budget problems of the State, California Superior Courts have been closed on the third Wednesday of each month (see LA Times Article at http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jul/30/local/me-court-close30). Today, for example, June 16, 2010, the court is closed, which affects not only the judges, court clerks, court reporters, and deputies, but also the juries, parties to litigation, and lawyers.
I am trying to understand the logic in closing on a Wednesday, as compared with Friday or Monday, that is not already a holiday. According to the Judicial Council’s report (see page 3 at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/documents/reports/072909item3.pdf) if they close the Superior Courts on a Monday or a Friday, it would impose longer detentions over the weekend and thus increase costs on local jails. I have not seen how many people that would impact, but I seriously doubt that many people will be affected because their arraignment is delayed by one day, which already happens when Monday is a holiday. However, perhaps the criminal court buildings should be exempted from furlough, in any event, in large counties, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, or opened for this limited situation of hearing arraignments on a “better” furlough (Monday or Friday).
More important in my mind is the extra cost to close down for a day on Tuesday and reopen from the closure on Thursday, only to close again for the weekend two days later. There is likely extra cost in closing for a day and reopening that the Judicial Council did not consider.
Finally, we hear in the news how the court clerks, deputies, and judges dislike the furlough, as it is a nuisance and breaks up the work week. Of course it does. What employer proposes closing in the middle of the work week, when the closure could be on any Friday or Monday? Of course people that work there would prefer a three day weekend to a single day off. Why can’t the Judicial Council consider job satisfaction as a savings, when they decided on the furlough day?
I hope when the Judicial Council reconsiders the furlough for year 2010/2011 they re-evaluate the impact on the court clerks, deputies, and judges at the courthouse and the costs of closing and reopening mid-week.