Superior Court to Eliminate Over 500 Positions in ‘Consolidation’
Court Announces New Rules for Civil Filings to Take Effect March 18, Says Plan Will Save $56 Million
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer for Metropolitan News-Enterprise
The Los Angeles Superior Court will be forced to eliminate 511 positions in order to implement the budget-cutting “Consolidation Plan” it announced in November, Presiding Judge David Wesley said Friday.
Wesley, who was not available for comment on the plan, said in an email to judicial officers and staff that the plan, which involves closing courthouses and shifting some types of cases from one facility to another, will save the court $56 million.
“Those savings come at a very high price,” Wesley wrote. “There will be fewer courthouses in the system and court users will have to travel further and wait longer to have their matters resolved.”
‘Until the Very Last Moment’
While the court is going to have to cut 511 positions, the number of employees who will actually lose their jobs is smaller, he explained, due to “existing vacancies, cuts made to non-staff spending, and other mitigation.” He promised that the court will work “[u]ntil the very last moment” to reduce the number of layoffs, but said the massive cuts in funding by the Legislature have tied the court’s hands.
The court Friday also released the details of its previously announced plans to shift large numbers of civil cases to “hub” courthouses. All limited jurisdiction, personal injury, small claims, and unlawful detainer cases will be subject to new filing rules effective two weeks from today, as follows:
•Small claims cases will be filed at six hubs—Alhambra, the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown, the Michael D. Antonovich Courthouse in Lancaster, Downey, Inglewood, and the Van Nuys East Courthouse.
Cases now filed in Glendale, Pasadena, East Los Angeles, El Monte, West Covina and Pomona must be filed in Alhambra; those now filed in Bellflower, Compton, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Norwalk, San Pedro and Whittier will go to Downey; cases now filed in Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, Torrance and West Los Angeles, and those now filed in Chatsworth, Santa Clarita, and San Fernando, will got to Van Nuys East.
The Mosk and Antonovich courthouses will serve the same areas they do now.
•All unlimited jurisdiction personal injury cases will be filed at Mosk. Personal injury will be defined to include motor vehicle, product liability, medical malpractice, premises liability, intentionally causing bodily injury, or “Other Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death” cases.
“Actions for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, civil rights/discrimination and malpractice other than medical malpractice are not included in this definition,” the court said, nor are actions for injury to real property.
•Filing locations for limited jurisdiction cases will be determined by whether the cases are classified as “collections” or “non-collections.”
Collections cases, generally defined by Rule 3.740 of the California Rules of Court as actions “arising from a transaction in which property, services, or money was acquired on credit,” will be divided between Chatsworth and Norwalk. Non-collections cases will be filed at Mosk.
•All unlawful detainer cases will be filed at five hubs: Pasadena, Long Beach, the Antonovich and Mosk courthouses, and Santa Monica.
Further information, including ZIP-coded charts directing which hub to file a small claims, unlawful detainer, or limited jurisdiction collections case at, may be obtained from the court’s website, lasuperiorcourt.org. The charts will also be posted at the various courthouses, the court said.
Parties and attorneys with pending cases will be notified within the next eight weeks if those cases are to be shifted, the court said.
In an unexpected development, cases now filed at the Catalina Courthouse will continue to be filed there, according to the charts. That courthouse was one of 10 slated for closure when the plan was announced last year.
There was no immediate explanation from the court, but an employee familiar with the situation said there were concerns that if the building were closed, the court would not be able to reopen it in the future due to seismic regulations.
See Orders and Notices to Attorneys regarding each type of case at http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/consolidation/ui/.