October 09, 2015

Brown Vetoes Bill to Fund New Superior Court Judgeships

By a MetNews Staff Writer / Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Gov. Jerry Brown late yesterday vetoed a bill that would have funded 12 previously authorized judgeships, including one in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

“I am aware that the need for judges in many counties is acute—Riverside and San Bernardino are two clear examples,” the governor wrote in a message accompanying his veto of SB 229, by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside.

“However, before funding any positions, I intend to work with the Judicial Council to develop a more systemwide approach to balance the workload and the distribution of judgeships around the state,” the governor wrote.

The new judgeships would have been 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 both housed without a dissenting vote, would have incorporated the Judicial Council of California’s need-based standards, with over half the additional judgeships being placed in Riverside and San Bernardino.

Roth said at the time of passage that 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.”

The bill, he said, “would finally begin to ease the dire effects of this shortage in both Inland Southern California and the entire state.”

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.

In its most recent report to the Legislature on judicial needs, issued last year, the Judicial Council said San Bernardino had an “assessed judicial need” for 143 positions but had only 86 judges and subordinate judiicial officer positions authorized and funded, for a shortfall of 57 positions.

Riverside had a shortfall of 51.4 positions, Los Angeles 44.2, Kern 15, Fresno 11.7, Orange 11.6, and Sacramento 9.3. All other counties were reported to be 8.8 or fewer positions short, with 35 of the 58 counties having some shortfall.


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