If you are not around the Court system very often you may not realize the absolute financial crisis affecting our judicial system, especially in California. Services that were once considered basic Court services are now unaffordable luxuries—such as enough Courtrooms, Judges, and staff to properly run the Court system. Filing fees have skyrocketed, the number of Court clerks and other staff have plummeted and the wait time to get an open Court room for a civil trial (including Trust and Will trials) have increased dramatically.
When new cases enter our judicial system parties do not understand why it takes so long to resolve their cases. Many times I hear about relatives or actions out of state that were handled in a matter of months, so why is my case taking so long? Welcome to California—and the California judicial crisis.
The problem is widespread and it affects every aspect of your civil case, from filing to administration of your case in the Court system to trial. Everything takes longer, costs more and may not be done right the first time around (which causes even more expense and delay). The end result is a growing backlog of civil cases dwelling in the Court system with no way out. And the longer a case sits in the Court system, the more expensive it becomes from fees and costs incurred.
Clients may be tempted to blame their lawyers for not moving their case along, and there are times when lawyers aren’t as expeditious as they should be. But by and large, the judicial budget crisis is to blame and it is completely out of our control.
Unfortunately, the court system is likely to get worse before it gets better. It is a shame that in our American system of justice we cannot even access basic Court services. In the words of William E. Gladstone “justice delayed is justice denied.” If you have a few spare minutes be sure to email your California representative or state senator because until this crisis is addressed, your rights may not be enforceable in Court.