Court services are fully restored at one of the most remote courthouses in California. The Superior Court of San Bernardino County had reduced services at its Needles Courthouse along the California-Arizona state line in 2013 as the court made needed cutbacks during the Great Recession.
In addition to Needles, the court reduced services or closed courthouses in the Barstow, Big Bear, and Chino districts, and had to layoff 44 staff. When the Needles Courthouse reduced its services, the closest court facility for area residents was 150 miles away.
“The simple fact is that we can no longer afford to support as many court locations or support as many services as in the past,” said Justice Marsha Slough in 2012, when she served as presiding judge for the court before her appointment to the state Court of Appeal.
Fast-forward a decade and the Needles courthouse doors are again open five days a week—expanding its one-day-per-month schedule implemented to cut costs. The court held a grand re-opening ceremony on Jan. 24. [View video highlights]
Residents can now access in-person court services such as filing documents and scheduling court hearings. The court's self-help services remain available in-person on a monthly basis but are available remotely every day.
“I am pleased that with continued partnership, and new funding, we are able to restore court services for the residents of Needles and the surrounding areas,” said Presiding Judge Glenn Yabuno. "With these services restored, people can access our services, speak with a judge, and get help filing documents instantly thanks to the technology we developed and adopted during the pandemic.”
Because the court is located far from the county center, the court will initially offer court hearings with a judicial officer presiding remotely. Eventually, the court plans to assign a judicial officer to the Needles courthouse to hear matters in person.
"To open Needles is to fulfill the responsibility we have to expand access across our county, and more importantly, the promise we made to this community," said Court Executive Officer Anabel Z. Romero.