Barstow courthouse saved
Judge announces Chino courthouse closure, other cuts
BARSTOW • The Barstow courthouse has been spared in a round of cuts that will included closing the courthouse in Chino, court officials announced Friday.
Attorneys, court employees and community members in Barstow breathed a breath of relief at the news, as court officials previously identified Barstow as a possible candidate for the chopping block.
“That’s good to hear,” said attorney Bob Conaway, who owns an small law firm in Barstow. “It would have been unfair, and there are a lot of things that are unfair... I’m glad they didn’t add closure of the Barstow courthouse as one of them.”
Barstow Courthouse security officer Darren Pepoy said he was relieved at the news, though he doubted Barstow courthouse was ever in danger of closure.
“I kinda knew all along there’s no way they could shut Barstow down,” Pepoy said. “Well, first of all, Victorville — you know how busy they are. They’re already overloaded.”
In addition to the Chino courthouse closure, the court clerks office will close at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. Also, the court clerk’s office in Needles will now only be open when court is in session three days per month. Finally, the courts cut three administrative staff positions. In all, 23 positions were cut countywide. All changes go into effect Jan. 1.
“We undertake these actions reluctantly, knowing the impact they will have on our employees and our justice partners, and knowing that they will reduce access to the courts for the people of San Bernardino County,” Presiding Judge Ronald Christianson said in a prepared statement. “These changes are necessary steps given the deep cuts we are facing. These changes do not, however, completely solve our budget crisis.”
According to the statement released by the San Bernardino Superior Court, the agency faces a potential operating shortfall of $13.5 million after courts statewide took reductions this fiscal year, starting July 1. Officials estimate they could face as much as $21 million annually thereafter. Their reserves were also slashed by an estimated $14 million to $18 million.
“We will continue assessing our situation to determine what additional actions will need to be taken,” Christianson said.
Court officials have also been discussing possible labor cost reductions with the court employee’s unions.
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