Divorce delays avoided in San Francisco after court funding deal

The courtroom cuts that could have left San Franciscans waiting for a divorce for up to two years have been avoided under a deal announced Wednesday.

The San Francisco Supervisor Court will save 100 people from losing their jobs and prevent 11 courtroom closures under the agreement announced by Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein.

The agreement is the result of negotiations which began last week, and must be approved by the Judicial Council, which is holding a Sept. 9 meeting to vote on it.

Feinstein hailed the agreement as a “true compromise” with the Administrative Office of the Court, a state body overseeing California’s state court system, which would “lessen the blow on access to justice.”

Cuts to the San Francisco court system were necessary as a result of the state budget. Feinstein had previously warned of delays to legal proceedings, including an additional year for obtaining a divorce, and longer line waits to be able to pay a traffic citation.

The court system was looking at as many as 175 layoffs and closure of 25 courtrooms. Under the agreement layoffs would be reduced to 75 and courtroom closures to 14. The court faces a $6.23 million deficit for the current fiscal year and a total $20.4 million deficit looking out to fiscal year 2013-2014.

Under the agreement, the court would see a $2.5 million infusion of funding, accept a $605,000 grant from the AOC and save $4 million this fiscal year by laying off 75 court employees.

Feinstein praised the agreement but said she is focused on developing a “long-term solution tin inadequate trial court funding.”


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