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Pleasanton Superior Court, others throughout state, to close 3rd Wednesdays of month

Budget-cutting plan, affecting 58 counties, starts this week

A budget-cutting plan to close all California courts one day per month will go into effect for the first time on Wednesday. The closures will include Superior Court in Pleasanton.

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

The plan was approved by the California Judicial Council, the governing body of the state court system, in July. The shutdowns will continue until the end of the fiscal year in June 2010, but will be reconsidered by the council in January.

The agency said the closures will save about $94 million statewide.

Chief Justice Ronald George, who chairs the council, said earlier this month, "The mission of the Judicial Council is to improve access to justice, so it was extremely difficult for us to make any decision that results in closing our courts.

"However, in the face of severe budget reductions, the council approved the closures as a way to partially offset the budget cutbacks while seeking to protect court employees and critical court programs that provide services to the public," George said.

The closure days will be treated as holidays for purposes of calculating court deadlines. As on holidays and weekends, one judge in each court will be available to sign emergency orders.

The council was authorized by the state Legislature to select a method of closing courts one day per month to cut costs during the state's budget crisis.

The group considered several options, including closing Southern California courts on one Wednesday per month and Northern California courts on a Friday, but concluded that closing all courts on the same day each month would be least disruptive.

The remaining closure days in the current fiscal year will be Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 17, April 21, May 19 and June 16.

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