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San Francisco Superior Court preparing for ‘unprecedented’ layoffs and court closures

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The California legislature’s latest budget, though vetoed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, is forcing San Francisco Superior Court officials to prepare to lay off 41 percent of court staff and close 25 courtrooms, the court announced.

Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein said in a statement that while Brown’s veto was “good news,” the uncertainty about the budget “requires us to continue planning for unprecedented layoffs and courtroom closures.”

The proposal to cut $150 million from the state’s judicial branch, in addition to a $200 million cut approved last year, increases the San Francisco Superior Court’s deficit from $8.03 million to $13.75 million, according to Feinstein.

With the state budget in “limbo,” the court is planning to issues layoff notices by mid-July, effective in mid-August. The current budget would require the dismissal of 200 of its 484 employees, and the closure of 25 courtrooms, including civil, criminal, probate, juvenile and family law departments, according to the court.

Feinstein predicted “significant delays” in the court system, and urged lawmakers to restore funding.

“Justice as we know it today will be dismantled,” Feinstein said. “I can’t emphasize enough just how devastating this would be for our court and for all people who depend on us. In short justice will be on hiatus.”

aburack@sfexaminer.com