scales-of-justice

Officials: No talks of restoring Barstow courthouse until deficit erased
July 12, 2013 6:24 PM
Shea Johnson, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO • If the state’s Judicial Council approves, San Bernardino County would cut more than half its $11.2 million court funding deficit, county court officials said this week.

Erasing the deficit is a critical step before talks can be had regarding any long-term fixes such as possibly returning the Barstow courthouse to full operations, county court Presiding Judge Marsha G. Slough and Executive Officer Stephen Nash said by phone Thursday.

“We can’t talk about long-term permanent enhancements to our courts until we have that deficit shored up,” Slough said.

At the beginning of May, state budget shortfalls forced the Barstow courthouse to reduce operations to one courtroom open three days a week. The court also ceased hearing criminal cases, which were moved to Victorville.

The Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee met Tuesday in Sacramento to discuss how money for trial courts should be allocated to each county in the state.

The committee, which Slough serves on, is expected to send its recommendations July 25 to the council, which will then decide whether to approve them.

Included in those recommendations was how to divvy up $60 million restored to the court system in Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget signed late last month.

The county’s share of that money would be approximately $4.2 million, Slough said, noting that an earlier rough estimate of $7 million proved premature.

An additional $2.2 million would be allocated to the county under a new workload methodology adopted by the council in April, bringing the county’s total take to $6.6 million — or an updated deficit of $4.6 million.

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