In the near future, the Santa Barbara County plans to shut down its Juvenile Court near Goleta, close court services in Solvang, and make dramatic cuts to the court budget this year. Budget cuts have hit hard most, if not all, the California courts, in a variety of ways with the Santa Barbara Superior Court and other courts being no exception. These cuts are resulting in:
» The processing of Civil judgments by the Santa Barbara Superior Court are running more than five months behind.
» Child custody mediation that once took three weeks to schedule now takes five weeks.
» Processing Divorce judgments with the Santa Barbara Superior Court are more than six months behind.
» There is a 26% vacancy rate in Santa Barbara Superior court staff.
» Shorter clerk hours. The Santa Barbara Superior Court clerk’s office now closes to the public at 3 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m.
All of these cuts create real-life problems for the public. For example, delays in divorce judgments hurt people looking to remarry or enroll in new health benefits. In court cases, Judges are often required to delay court proceedings because self-represented litigants trying to wade through the legal system without any professional help did not fill out the paperwork properly. Among the biggest hits to the court system is in family law, which includes divorces and child-custody issues. The pattern of cutbacks experienced by the California court during this budget crisis have steadily eroded the court system locally and statewide, and delayed justice for litigants along the way and more cuts to the 2015 budget are expected. Court records and documents sit untouched due to lack of clerical staff. Documents are accepted at the counter for filing, but there is no staff to process the paperwork on the back-end. The courts have opted to close the clerk counters early, at 3 pm, just to allow clerical staff two hours to try to catch up on the day’s document processing. There is also a growing backlog of files waiting to be digitized. Consumers that have elected to use an experienced legal document assistants such as A People’s Choice cut some of the backlog that results from people submitting improper documentation because documentation can be processed without being rejected over and over. Also often family law cases can be completed much faster when using such a service.