BARSTOW• A last-minute reprieve in the form of $1.2 million from state courts reserves will allow one courtroom to stay open in Barstow at least through June of next year.


San Bernardino County Presiding Judge Marsha Slough and Court Executive Officer Stephen Nash traveled to Barstow on Wednesday to personally deliver the news that the courtroom will continue to hold cases. The court was to be completely closed May 6.


"It keeps a presence and an ability for the citizens in this community and the surrounding communities to have their legal matters addressed in a more proper fashion," Slough said. "So we see it as a very, very positive step and yet we have a long, long way to go because we still face a $10 million deficit."


The lone courtroom will allow traffic, landlord-tenant, small claims and domestic violence cases to continue to be heard three days a week in Barstow until June 21, 2014 — that is barring any unforeseen additional reductions, according to Slough.


Civil, family law and criminal cases will still be transferred to other county courts.


"We're facing the court's fiscal cliff so this buys a little bit of relief. But remember we have four courtrooms and now we're down to one temporarily," Nash said. "So a much bigger fight continues to get ongoing sufficient funding so that all residents of San Bernardino County have access to justice and access to the courts. And that's a big job."


Slough and Nash met with Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, City Manager Curt Mitchell and Hesperia Mayor Bill Holland for lunch Wednesday. The mayors discussed their plans to continue advocating for the courts by testifying at the State Assembly Finance subcommittee in Sacramento on April 3.


Holland said he and Hackbarth-McIntyre hope to get all the mayors from San Bernardino's County's 24 cities to the meeting.


"This is terrific news for Barstow," Hackbarth-McIntyre said. "I am actually thrilled right now but that's a temporary and we know that. We just want to keep pushing forward to make a clear message that the judicial branch as a whole needs to be funded correctly so that San Bernardino County has its fair share."


According to Slough, First District County Supervisor Robert Lovingood and Third District County Supervisor James Ramos were instrumental in passing a countywide resolution to advocate for adequate court funding.


"We're appreciative of their support in our efforts in trying to keep the courts open and accessible to the public," Slough said.


Lovingood said in a statement that he was pleased, but that "the battle is not over."


"The state continues to grossly underfund courts in San Bernardino County," he said. "We're not asking Sacramento for special favors or an extra helping of pork. We're demanding basic access to justice for the people."


San Bernardino Superior Court should have 156 judicial positions, but currently has 91 authorized positions, according to a court news release. The county court system also has the largest deficit of judicial positions in the state with less than 60 percent of the judicial positions needed to address the current caseload and based upon actual number of filings coming into the Court.


On Wednesday, the Court also announced it will maintain juvenile delinquency court, including delinquency drug court in the Victorville courthouse three days a week effective May 6 through June 28, 2014, again barring any unforeseen additional budget reductions.


Contact the writer: BSelf@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4123.


This article was updated on March 28, 2013 to clarify which party will testify at the State Assembly Finance subcommittee meeting.