An interesting subplot is emerging in the story of the severe budget cuts forcing the layoffs of San Francisco Superior Court employees and closure of civil courtrooms. An open letter to Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein has surfaced that accuses court administrators of "gutting" the ranks of low-level court clerks in order to preserve management positions.
As Courthouse News Service reports, the anonymous letter writer takes aim at the choice of positions targeted as a result of the 200 layoffs and 25 courtroom closures forced on San Francisco by budget cuts at the state level.
"It is terribly transparent that the court has gutted the most hard
working groups within the court and has kept ALL of upper management," the letter states. "We are so top heavy it ironically mimics many of the [state Administrative Office of the Courts'] questionable practices."
The writer goes on to demand "answers to questions that have been asked and decidedly unanswered leaving many feeling betrayed."
Feinstein has loudly protested the cuts to court funding, warning that they would result in dramatically protracted waits for litigants in civil proceedings. Criminal courts, which are constitutionally obligated to process cases in set amounts of time, will be less affected.
Last year, scheduled layoffs of 122 employees were halted at the last minute by a deal that allowed more cash to flow to the state courts. This year, however, no such succor was available: Pink slips were sent out to workers in the courts last month.
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