Southern California — this just in
May 14, 2012 | 1:29 pm

State judicial leaders warned Monday that the proposed cuts for the California courts may jeopardize public access to the justice system.

During the last three years, the state’s huge court system has been cut by $650 million. The new proposed budget would shrink the system by another $544 million, freezing construction to replace dilapidated courthouses.

The new cuts come after Gov. Jerry Brown released a revised $91-billion budget in response to the state deficit that has ballooned to $16 billion, nearly twice what the governor projected when he released his initial budget proposal in January. In addition to the court cuts, Brown is proposing sharp cuts to health and welfare spending, and a 5% reduction in state payrolls.

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye called for an emergency meeting Monday of judicial leaders to determine how the courts should respond.

“The proposed cuts to the judicial branch are both devastating and disheartening,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “They will seriously compromise the public’s access to their courts and our ability to provide equal access to justice throughout the state.”

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