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Court talks 'productive'

Supervisors to vote on resolution to support court funding efforts

STAFF WRITER

SAN BERNARDINO • The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors are expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution supporting efforts to adequately fund County courts.

The Board of Supervisors meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the County Government Center in San Bernardino. It follows last week’s meeting between the Supervisors and county Presiding Judge Marsha Slough and other officials to discuss the distressed financial situation of the courts.

Tuesday’s meeting also comes after First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood visited Sacramento lawmakers last Wednesday. He said that talks with state legislators were “productive.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic that the Legislature will address this issue,” he wrote in an email. “It is clear that the state Legislature clearly understands the plight of our courts in San Bernardino County.”

He said the Board of Supervisors is partnering with the delegation and local stakeholders to address the “vital issue.”

Court Executive Officer Stephen Nash said the issue is ultimately a state budget problem, though support by the Board of Supervisors and local officials is helpful.

“Our understanding is that the Board of Supervisors is supportive and concerned about the equity of court funding,” Nash said.

According to Nash, courts throughout the state are underfunded but San Bernardino County has been impacted the most.

“Our share of the cuts is too high,” Nash said. “We’re the most underjudged court in the state.”

The court closures in Barstow, Needles and Big Bear will have a big impact on surrounding communities, Judge Slough said, adding that the average file count that judges in San Bernardino County carry are already substantially higher than other counties. She said in communication with a family law commissioner on Monday that the official was still working on her morning agenda items at 2:30 p.m.

“The numbers become overwhelming and it just causes further delay,” Slough said.

In a meeting with lawmakers in Sacramento on Feb. 12, Judge Slough, Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre and Hesperia Mayor Bill Holland testified on the impacts of the court closures to their communities. Nash said he received several positive comments on their testimonies.

“We tried to convey that there is no transportation to the courts and how different counties are funded,” Hackbarth-McIntyre said.

She said grant funding will end at the end of the year for the “B-V link,” a Barstow to Victorville bus that operates three days a week, leaving the community without a public transportation option. She also noted that a county in California with a similar number of caseloads had 154 judges compared to the 91 in San Bernardino County.

Contact Brooke Self at (760)256-4123 or BSelf@DesertDispatch.com.


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