Painful proposed cuts, but potential for more mediations.

Painful proposed cuts to the Courts, but potential for more mediations.

Painful proposed cuts to the Courts, but there are potential for more mediations.   Today I attended a presentation of the “Justice Partners of the Contra Costa Superior Court.”    The presenters were Judges Becton and Goode.  The painful topic was the potential impact of California’s budget cuts on the local Court.   They are painful, but give an opening for more mediations.

Over the last three fiscal years the Court has cut the budget by 7.5 million dollars.  Those cuts have themselves been painful.  The cuts the Contra Costa Court will have to make this year are another 7 million dollars.

It was stressed that the information we received are the proposed cuts.  Nothing has been finalized.  They are looking for constructive comments that would help clarify any unintended consequences.

The Contra Costa Superior Court normally handles in a year:

  • 10,000 criminal cases
  • 25,000 civil cases
  • 10,000 family law cases
  • 120,000 traffic cases
  • 2,150 juvenile cases
  • 1,300 probate cases

Some highlights of the proposed cuts are:

  • Close the Concord Courthouse
  • Close all courtrooms with commissioners
  • Close the discovery court
  • Move family law out from Pittsburg to Martinez
  • Reduce DCSS to a 80% calendar only
  • Move juvenile out Richmond and Pittsburg
  • Most if not all special courts will be eliminated
  • Night courts maybe eliminated

In developing these proposals, time constraints were carefully considered.  Both criminal and juvenile have short timelines.  Judge Goode pointed out that in California, the time limit for civil is five years.  Sounds like mediation will be a viable option for a lot of cases.

For those interested there will be a public presentation on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Department 17 in Martinez.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman ( has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

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