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Superior Court in Pleasanton to close 1 day a month in budget crisis

All-courts closures expected to save system $85 million

Superior Court in Pleasanton will be among courts scheduled to close the third Wednesday of each month starting in September in response to the state's budget crisis.

A state judicial agency voted in San Francisco yesterday to close all California courts for one day per month. The plan was unanimously approved by the 21 voting members of the state Judicial Council, the governing body of the California court system, at a meeting on court budgets.

Chief Justice Ronald George, who chairs the council, said, "It is with the greatest regret that we have to be at this point, where we're considering court closure as a last resort."

The closures will occur on the third Wednesday of each month and will apply to all state courts, including the trial-level superior courts of 58 counties, six appeals courts and the California Supreme Court.

The council was given authority to select a once-per-month closure day in the budget law passed by the Legislature last week.

The group's staff report said the closure will save $85 million out of $190 million in budget cuts that must be absorbed by the state court system.

The shut-downs will begin in September and continue until the end of the fiscal year in June, but will be reconsidered by the council in January.

The report said that no one day is convenient for all courts and a number of options were considered, including closing Southern California courts on one Wednesday per month and Northern California courts on a Friday.

But the report said closing all courts on the same day each month would be the least disruptive approach and would provide "consistency among all state courts and a higher level of predictability for the benefit of court users."

As on holidays and weekends, one judge in each court would be available on closure days to sign emergency orders.

Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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