California Court Budget Cuts

Scissors cutting a budget.Update on the Impact of California Court System Budget Cuts

Throughout the past decade, the California State court system budget has been cut by more than $1 billion. This has led to the closure of 51 courthouses and more than 200 courtrooms. Court fees have increased, case resolutions have delayed, and many court employees have been laid off as a result of such cuts. With such drastic cuts, over 2 million California residents have been deprived access to justice.




  • 52 courthouses and a total of 202 courtrooms have closed.
  • 30 courts have had to reduce hours at public service counters.
  • 15 courts have had to institute limited court service days (where the majority of courtrooms and clerk's offices are closed).
  • Nearly 4,000 court staff have lost their jobs. Many courts are leaving vacant positions unfilled, and some courts continue to furlough employees.

As a result of the budget cuts, we published detailed articles addressing its impact on our blog. The budget cuts have been felt statewide. Fortunately, several court officials have spoken out in protest of the cuts throughout the years and have demanded an increased budget.

“In order to maintain that status quo — lines out the door, the delay, the closures — we need $266 million simply to maintain the status quo, which in my mind is substandard.” - Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

The San Bernardino Superior Court is a severely under-resourced and underfunded court. In fact, it is the second most under-resourced and underfunded court in the state. See San Bernardino Superior Court Announces the Second Phase of Cost Reduction Measures.

Without the voice of legal professionals opposing the cuts, the courts may continue to be underfunded.

2015 Budget Boost

Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015 budget plan will increase funding to California State system courts from $3.29 billion to $3.47 billion. The increase will help fund more than 58 trial courts around California that suffered extreme financial setbacks as a result of the budget cuts. It will also help rebuild a crippled court system and increase the public’s access to justice. Personnel will be added to help alleviate legal document processing backlog.

The majority of Brown's increase in court funding is a direct $90 million boost to trial courts, plus another $42.7 million to help cover mushrooming trial court employee benefit costs. The budget also includes a $26.9 million boost to help cover anticipated cost increases from Proposition 47, which voters approved last fall to reclassify certain drug and theft crimes as misdemeanors.

The additional funding is a step in the right direction. We will continue reporting on this issue as new information arises. Connect with us for future update by subscribing to our RSS Feed