Tani Cantil-Sakauye

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, July 14, 2011

By RICHARD K. DE ATLEY
The Press-Enterprise

California’s chief justice told a gathering of Inland attorneys and judges that the state judiciary faces a critical 10 days as it deals with an additional $150 million in cuts to a budget previously sliced by $200 million.

That larger first cut was addressed with fund transfers to help backfill some of the losses, said Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who took her post in January.

The chief justice also heads the Judicial Council policy branch of the court as well as the Administrative Office of the Courts, which plans and budgets for the system.

“When we heard about the $150 million in cuts, we had to scramble and see how we could deal with that,” Cantil-Sakauye said during her Tuesday evening address observing the second anniversary of the Inland Empire Legal Association of Women.

She said members of the trial court budget group have been fact-gathering since the additional cut was announced.

The group voted on those reccomendations Wednesday at a meeting in San Francisco, and those will be discussed publicly on July 22 when the Judicial Council meets there to consider what the budget group puts forward.

She said court administrators were “obsessing” about where to make the additional trims. It is the “first time the branch has ever received such a large cut. It’s something that is on everyone’s mind,” she said.

The court’s budget was originally $3.505 billion before the cumulative $350 million in cuts agreed upon by the Legislature and Gov. Brown. That dropped the overall court budget to $3.155 billion.

“The judicial branch is in a period of contraction, as the state is,” Cantil-Sakauye said “Since 2009, the judicial branch has undergone a 30 percent cut to its baseline budget.”

Cantil-Sakauye said part of the challenge the judiciary faces is how the public views it.

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