California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on Friday issued the following statement on the Governor’s budget proposal for the judicial branch:
“The Governor’s proposed budget for the judicial branch is welcome news.
It is careful and cautious, but also reflects his concern for those trying to access our court system during a pandemic. I commend his leadership during a difficult time for our state and country.”
The budget includes $381.1 million in new funding, including critical new investments to support the essential services provided by the judicial branch during the COVID-19 pandemic. The judicial branch last year took $200 million in cuts due to the economic downturn spurred by the pandemic.
The proposal includes:
- New Pandemic Early Disposition Calendar Program: The Governor’s administration plans to work with the Legislature and the Judicial Council to create the Pandemic Early Disposition Calendar Program, which builds on the Chief Justice’s program launched last month to prevent significant delays in criminal cases. This new program may include diversion and dismissal of certain cases for defendants who do not have new charges or violations.
- Help for Unrepresented Litigants: $19.1 million ongoing for trial courts to continue to provide self-help services to the millions of Californians going to court without an attorney each year.
- Expands Ability to Pay: $12.3 million (increasing to $58.4 million by 2024-25) to expand the use of an online ability-to-pay tool which allows Californians to ask for relief on fines for infractions.
- Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief: $11.7 million for trial courts to process an anticipated increase in unlawful detainer and small claims filings resulting from AB 3088, which provided pandemic-related relief to tenants and landlords.
The budget proposal also includes $2.1 billion over the next five years to fund construction of critically needed new courthouses. The proposal includes funding for 14 replacement and renovation projects on a priority list approved by the Judicial Council.