By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 01/15/14, 8:14 PM PST |

Sacramento >> An attempt to pump more money into underfunded courthouses has died in committee.

Assembly Bill 1313, authored by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, would have paid for up to 12 additional courtroom staff positions in the counties with the greatest disparity between current staffing levels and those recommended by the Judicial Council, the California court system’s policy-making body.

“I can think of nothing more pressing than to ensure all Californians have access to constitutionally guaranteed justice,” Donnelly said. “It is unfortunate that some of my colleagues don’t agree with me.”

The bill, which was sponsored by Inland Empire and Central Valley legislators from both sides of the aisle, died in committee Tuesday.

“In my conversation with Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, she acknowledged the need for 50 additional judgeships in San Bernardino County,” Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, Donnelly’s primary co-sponsor, said Wednesday, “AB 1313 would have addressed this issue by allowing our court system to gain 12 additional judgeships each year.”

The assemblywoman vowed to continue the fight.

In recent years, budgetary pressures forced the closure of courts across the state. San Bernardino County saw the closure of the Big Bear, Chino and Needles courthouses, and the Barstow courthouse going from five courtrooms open five days a week to one courtroom open three days a week. One of the courtrooms in Joshua Tree was also shut down. Juvenile traffic courts in Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino also shut down, and the juvenile traffic courts periodically held in Barstow, Big Bear and Joshua Tree have also come to an end, according to San Bernardino County Presiding Judge Marsha Slough.

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