Gavel Grab

California Courts Facing Civil Rights Crisis?

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye gives her State of the Judiciary

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye gives her State of the Judiciary

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye says the state faces a civil rights crisis because of nearly a half billion dollars in court funding budget cuts since 2008.

“It’s tragic that 50 years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, California faces a different type of civil rights crisis,” Cantil-Saauye told the Los Angeles Times. “It is not about the law. It is about access to it.”

According to the Sacramento Bee, delays are faced in numerous cases including urgent family matters, business contracts, wrongful termination and discrimination cases. She assured the legislature that the courts want to be a partner in fair and collaborative solutions.

Cantil-Sakauye outlined efforts by the Judicial Branch to create more fairness, including operating self-help centers for litigants without lawyers.

The branch created JusticeCorps, a national service program, 10 years ago to recruit and train college students and recent graduates to staff the help centers. Started in Los Angeles, the program has since been expanded to San Diego and Bay Area courts. JusticeCorps helped about 16,000 litigants in their native languages last year, she said at the news conference.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to increase funding to the courts by $105 million next year, but Cantil-Sakauye has said the justice system needs $266 million more “just to tread water,” $612 million more to fully serve the public and $1.2 billion over three years to fully repair the damage.

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