By a MetNews Staff Writer | Metropolitan News-Enterprise
A bill that would fund 12 new superior court judgeships, including one in Los Angeles County, was unanimously approved yesterday by the state Assembly.
“As California weathered the global economic crisis, it was forced to make drastic cuts to the court system, resulting in costly delays and courtroom closures,” Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, the author of SB229 said. “Inland Southern Californians, like many residents of our state, have witnessed the overwhelming effects of this ongoing shortage firsthand, and funding these judgeships will begin to reverse the substantial loss incurred by our justice system.”
The new judgeships would be the first to be funded in over a decade. Lawmakers previously authorized 50 additional judgeships, but never funded them as revenue collections fell and the state’s resources were directed toward what officials said were more pressing needs.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 69-0, would incorporate the Judicial Council of California’s need-based standards, with over half the additional judgeships being placed in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Roth said he would continue to work to fund the remaining 38 positions. He called the judgeship shortage “an access to justice issue” and his bill “the first step in ensuring justice is delivered in a timely and equitable manner.”
“I am hopeful the Governor will sign SB 229 and that we will finally begin to ease the dire effects of this shortage in both Inland Southern California and the entire state.”
The bill, which now returns to the Senate for what is expected to be swift concurrence in Assembly amendments, would originally have funded only 10 positions, but was amended based on a determination that 12 posts could be funded for the same money, about $14.813 million, by employing less support staff.
A proposal to add one justice to the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Div. Two, for a total of eight, was eliminated as the bill worked its way through the Legislature.