San Franciscans will see a leaner Superior Court starting today, with fewer courtrooms open and staff available and reduced services for those without attorneys.
The court’s $6.2 million budget deficit forced the closure of 10 civil courtrooms, nearly 70 layoffs and reductions to the two self-help centers. More-drastic cuts were avoided thanks to a $2.5 million emergency loan approved a month ago by the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
The original plan called for closing 25 of 63 courtrooms and laying off 200 of 484 employees.
Friday was the last day of work for 67 employees, including 29 court reporters. Eight court commissioners also lost their jobs, along with several clerks and staff attorneys, and some supervisor and manager positions were eliminated.
“It is a sad day for our court and for access to justice in San Francisco,” court CEO Michael Yuen said in a statement. “We can only hope that we do not have to face another day like this again in the future.”
The court’s two self-help centers, which provide free multilingual legal assistance to people who represent themselves in court, will be cutting hours now and will merge later this year.
The ACCESS Center at 575 Polk St. is now open from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to noon Fridays. The center offers assistance with small claims, evictions, civil harassments, guardianship, conservatorship, and name and gender changes. It served more than 21,000 people last year, according to the court.
The Family Law Self-Help Center — which provides aid in divorce, child custody, child support and domestic violence cases — is now only open from 8:30 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays at the Civic Center courthouse. It served nearly 16,000 people last year, the court said.