Under the weight of ongoing state budget cuts, the San Mateo County Superior Court yesterday announced it will slash up to two dozen positions, close five courtrooms and suspend the majority of services in the South San Francisco and San Mateo branches.
The changes will happen as early as July 2013 and include eliminating five court commissioner positions and 16 to 21 staff members. Two judges will remain at the South San Francisco branch to conduct preliminary hearings.
San Mateo County, like all counties statewide, have seen their courts hit by state budget cuts of more than $1 billion over the past five years. The local courts have already cut staff by 30 percent, consolidated courtrooms and hearings into the Redwood City branch and trimmed service and phone hours. In September, court officials warned more would be coming down the pike if the state continued with its cuts and yesterday confirmed the reality which includes further reduction of public counter and phone hours in February.
Presiding Judge Robert Foiles called the governor's January proposed budget "extremely disappointing” for failing to restore funding to the trial courts.
"We must plan now to effectively prioritize the most essential court services to protect the public while also living within our means. We regret that this will mean further delays in many other areas,” Foiles said in a prepared statement.