— The San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA) has released a report on funding issues limiting access to justice in San Diego County. The expanded update, in part, is the next iteration of the association’s annual report on the State of the Judiciary in San Diego County.

While California’s judicial branch has faced increasingly substantial budget cuts since 2007, the cutbacks are now beginning to have a more significant effect on the day-to-day lives of San

Diego citizens. For the San Diego Superior Court, 10 courtrooms are expected to close in addition to one civil department. Court reporters will be eliminated in all family law cases, and juvenile dependency operations will be consolidated, among other service cutbacks. This fiscal year, the state budget does not allocate any additional funding for court operations, but the budget shortfall can also be attributed to increased labor costs and the statewide formula to determine how courts are funded.

“Our court leadership has done an incredible job of managing efficiencies to minimize the impact of the budget cuts, but there is only so much that can be done to combat a $30 million deficit,” said Loren Freestone, who was 2017 SDCBA president. “Process delays, fewer courtrooms, and the elimination of court reporters affect the safeguards that ensure proper and efficient administration of justice.”

The report is available at www.sdcba.org/justicereport.

What the update does not say, and should, is that California judges are not doing the right thing often enough and granting summary judgement. It would be easier for those from the defense bar to be sympathetic if calendars of many judges were not full of lousy claims. Lousy claims cost the court money. Plaintiff folks can hang around a weak claim knowing fee-shifting provisions can make an unwarranted settlement attractive. A lousy claim gets a jury award of $500, triggering thousands in attorney fees. California judges are pawns in the scheme, and the scheme reduces access to justice, too.

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Juanita Brooks, principal at Fish & Richardson, has been inducted into the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA) as a fellow.

The LCA is a close-knit, peer-selected and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the best trial lawyers in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise and service are invited to join this network of lawyers who effectively represent clients across North America and around the world.

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