COURT MAKES ADDITIONAL BUDGET CUTS
Due to the statewide budget crisis, the Superior Court is forced to make further adjustments to security in the courthouse. As soon as possible, the Court will contract with a private security company to do weapons screening at the one remaining entrance to the building in Stockton, replacing sheriff's deputies. Court executives say that this arrangement will last at least through June, 2005, the end of the next fiscal year.
In addition, Sheriff's deputies will be replaced by private guards in the three Stockton courtrooms that handle only civil matters (departments #11, #41, #42.) Court administrators hope to reinstate the deputies in the courtrooms in July, if the State Legislature provides adequate funding.
"We very much regret that we are forced to make these sacrifices, but the current budget situation leaves us no choice," according to Executive Officer Rosa Junqueiro. "We are doing our best to provide services in a secure environment, and we can only hope that legislators will stabilize court finances in the near future."
The Legislature, through the Administrative Office of the Courts, has mandated an immediate statewide $11-million cut in security costs. The San Joaquin Court's share of mandatory reductions is $130,686, which must be achieved in the next three months. Replacing deputies with private security guards is expected to meet that goal.
California Chief Justice Ronald George has appealed to the Governor and to legislators for relief from any further budget cuts. In his State of the Judiciary address last week, the Chief Justice said that "reductions in court budgets have adversely affected the lives of many Californians and threaten to render the administration of justice uneven and inadequate across our state."
The changes in security in the Stockton Courthouse are expected to be in effect beginning April 19, 2004. No deputies will lose their jobs as a result; they will be reassigned. Branch courts are unaffected; private guards already provide security there.