(CN) - With a crucial judiciary coffer running at a deficit, California's Judicial Council met Friday to deliver a painful blow of funding cuts to trial court security, technology, court-appointed counsel for juveniles and complex civil litigation.
The Improvement and Modernization Fund, for years a source of funding for court technology projects, interpreters, court security, judicial education, subscriptions to publications, jury management, self-help centers and a host of other projects and programs, is $11 million in the hole.
"There is no money in the IMF," Judge Laurie Earl of Sacramento gravely told the council. "Any action you do today needs to be based on there's no money in the IMF. This fund runs at a deficit. It has a structural imbalance and we need to act now or we'll be forced off the cliff that is looming. The cliff is here and we are standing at the edge of it."
Earl chairs the council's trial court budget advisory committee, and is co-chair of its revenue and expenditure subcommittee.
On Friday, Earl's committee recommended that the council approve about $10.8 million in cuts, which will eliminate funding for nine programs, including publication subscriptions, trial court security grants, alternative dispute resolution centers and the complex civil litigation program, which funds complex civil litigation staff in the superior courts of Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange, San Francisco, and Santa Clara County.
The elimination of complex civil litigation funding from the IMF will save $4 million, the committee estimated. Future funding will be based on workload need.
The recommendations were a last-ditch effort to save the fund from insolvency, but the notion of de-funding programs like trial court security and complex civil litigation did not sit well with many council members.
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