Los Angeles Superior Court Massive Budget Cuts Force Substantial Reduction in Services to Litigants in Los Angeles County

Recently, Proposition 30 passed in California. This piece of legislation increases sales taxes in California in an effort to help with the State Budget, including Court Funding. However, despite the passage of Proposition 30, the Los Angeles Superior Court must permanently cut its budget expenditures by up to $50 million before June 30, 2013. This will have a major impact on personal injury litigants.

To deal with this budget cut, the Los Angeles Superior Court is closing ten courthouses: Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Pedro, Beacon Street, Catalina and Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center.

How will this affect a personal injury claimant or litigant? You as a person injured in a car, motorcycle, truck, bicycle, bus, pedestrian or other accident? Here are a few things to keep in mind about the courts in and around Los Angeles:

  • Judges case loads will reach as high as 8,000 at any given time. This will cause individual cases to take longer to move through the legal process and to get to trial. The longer it takes to get to trial the more difficult it is to negotiate a reasonable settlement with an insurance company or defendant. Why? Because if they know they can wait two or three times as long to get to trial where a jury may force them to pay an injured claimant, they can hold onto their money longer.
  • The delay in the legal process makes it more difficult to obtain a reasonable settlement or get to a jury trial. As medical bills pile up because of the accident, it becomes a longer process for these victims to receive the compensation they deserve.

In addition to these potential shortcomings of the courts due to the closing of the ten courthouses, there are further cuts to help reduce Court expenditures:

  • There will be no more court provided reporters for civil cases.
  • One court liaison will serve two to three Courtrooms; the Courtroom will have only a Judge or Commissioner and a clerk most of the time. Fewer personnel with more work.
  • Cases will no longer be assigned to a single judge for the life of the case; instead the Los Angeles Superior Court is reverting to a Master Calendar system. Each time your lawyer shows up in Court there can be a different judge handling your case. This means a lack of continuity and judicial oversight on your case.
  • The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) previously offered by the Court has been eliminated. This means it may be more difficult for litigants to get their cases resolved without trial, and now trials are going to be delayed.

As you can imagine, the courts are urging all attorneys to reduce their law and motion activity, discovery disputes, and to try and pursue alternative resolutions to any legal disputes. This will help keep the courts as free as possible for cases that are more complex in nature. After all of these measures are enacted by their due date of June 30, 2013, we'll see how truly affected our court system and those using it will be.

It will be important for attorneys navigating the new procedures in the Los Angeles Superior Court to be intimately familiar with this new system. Furthermore, having an experienced car accident attorney or motorcycle accident attorney who can move cases forward without the assistance of the Court, and the ability of an experienced attorney to negotiate and settle your case without the assistance of the Court ADR system will be vital for a claimant to have appropriate legal representation in this new Los Angeles Superior Court civil system that will be up and running not later than June 30, 2013.

We here at Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation hope that the information we have made available to you will be helpful as you navigate the Los Angeles Superior Court system's new procedures.

At the law firm of Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation, we have successfully recovered more than $100 million for our clients. Scott J. Corwin has been named a Member of the National Trial Lawyers Association (NTLA), Top 100 Attorneys in California for 2010 through 2015. Mr. Corwin has also been named a Southern California Super Lawyer every year from 2007 through 2015, placing him in the top 5% of attorneys in California. Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 25 years of experience in personal injury and bicycle accident and pedestrian accident law and is well equipped to handle the most complex cases involving automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.