California Must Adequately Fund Courthouse Construction.

On June 27, Governor Jerry Brown signed the budget for fiscal year 2012-2013. Despite our best efforts, the final budget cut $240 million from court construction to fund court operations next year, and put in place an ongoing annual redirection of $50 million in future years. The full implications of these measures are still being analyzed, but at least 10 courthouse projects will proceed in the coming year:

  • Alameda County: East County Hall of Justice, Dublin
  • Butte County: Chico Courthouse
  • Kings County: Hanford Courthouse
  • San Diego County: Central San Diego Courthouse
  • San Joaquin County: Stockton Courthouse and Renovation to Juvenile Justice Center
  • Santa Clara County: Santa Clara Family Justice Center
  • Solano County: Renovation to Fairfield Old Solano Courthouse
  • Sutter County: Yuba City Courthouse
  • Yolo County: Woodland Courthouse

Other projects in design will be paused to await a review of the court construction program to ensure operational efficiencies are reflected in the design of new trial courts.

See the full budget here.

Vital funding collected from court users to renovate and replace dilapidated courthouses throughout the state was diverted last year by the State Legislature to other state needs, contributing to an emerging crisis in vital court infrastructure.

In an effort to balance the California state budget, $310 million was taken directly from court construction funds. Another $440 million was borrowed. A seizure of courthouse construction funds of similar scope this year would put dozens of critical projects across the state at risk – they would have to be put on hold or eliminated entirely.

Many of our courthouses are not only unsuitable for the public to conduct business in, they are also a growing hazard for witnesses, victims’ families and those who work in these buildings.

Safe, secure, accessible courthouses – with adequate space to administer justice for the growing caseloads and growing population of our state—are a necessary underpinning of our democracy.

Without needed investment in California’s judicial facilities, our courthouses will grow more overcrowded and dangerous and the backlog of cases will grow – denying justice to victims of crime and delaying the necessary business conducted in state courtrooms.

Click here to see an open letter from the Just Build California coalition to the State Legislature.

For more information on SB 1407, the bill that authorized funding for courthouse construction, see here.