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Creating the Infrastructure for the New California Court System

NCJ Number
Date Published
28 pages
This document discusses the restructuring of California’s judicial branch.
Four major reforms have enabled the creation of a stronger infrastructure for the State’s judicial branch. The goals of the reforms were to bring greater efficiency to court operations and improve public access to court services. The first reform was to consolidate all funding decisions at the State level. The Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 did away with the system under which courts were subjected to two separate budget processes – at both the county and the State level. The second reform was the 1998 voter-passed constitutional amendment that provided for voluntary unification of the superior and municipal courts in each county into a single countywide trial court system. The third reform was the Trial Court Employment Protection and Governance Act in 2001, which mandated the transfer of 21,000 court employees from the counties to the courts. The fourth major reform was the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002 (Sen. Bill 1732) that initiated a shift in governance of more than 450 court facilities from the counties to the State over a 4 year period. These changes have reduced budget requests and absorbed reductions to date while avoiding serious compromises to public access and to core duties. In the future, the judicial branch will continue to strive to achieve these goals by further organizational restructuring and possibly the raising of court fees.