Last week the L.A. Superior Court began disseminating information about major changes that will take place as a result of the severe budget crisis facing the Court.
These are significant changes that will affect every CAALA member and the way they litigate.
Despite the passage of Proposition 30 and the election of Democrat “Super Majorities” in both Legislative Houses, the LASC alone must permanently cut its budget by $55 million to $86 million in expenditures before June 30, 2013. This is in addition to the more than $100 million the LASC cut in the last two years.
As a service to CAALA members, following is a preliminary summary of the changes that have been announced that specifically affect the Civil Courts.
There are still questions to be answered, but following is what has been announced to date.
(Note: All of the following will occur between December 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013).
- Ten Courthouses will be closed:
- Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West L.A., Beverly Hills, San Pedro, Beacon Street, Catalina, and Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center.
- All PI cases (including wrongful death and medical malpractice) will be filed downtown in Mosk and will be assigned to one of two Master Calendar (MC) Courtrooms.
- Each MC Judge is expected to have as many as 8,000 cases under his or her jurisdiction at any one time.
- There will be no MC Courtrooms in the districts. A PI case will be in the district only if the MC Court determines (at the request of a party) it should be transferred to an IC Court in the district if the case will be too “appearance-heavy” for MC, but does not qualify for Complex designation.
- You will receive Trial and Final SC dates at the filing window when the Complaint is first filed.
- Court will no longer monitor service of Summons & Complaint.
- If LASC gets the Court Rule change it WILL soon seek, there will be no more CMCs in PI cases. And there will be no more OSCs re: Dismissal, Default, or Service, nor will there be any Post-Mediation Status Conferences.
- Trials, (if the Complaint is timely and properly served and if Notice of the Trial and Final SC was timely and properly given) will be assigned to one of the dedicated TRIAL courtrooms (10 of such in Mosk, plus others spread around the County). You may or may not get your Trial in Mosk and you will not know until the day of trial where you will be sent for trial.
- At the present time, the Court has not determined whether any changes will be made as to those PI cases that are currently pending before IC Judges.
- Insurance Bad Faith and wrongful termination/discrimination/harassment are NOT considered PI cases, and thus will remain in IC courts or in Complex.
- All LASC collections cases will now be handled out of two Master Calendar departments, one in Norwalk and one in Chatsworth. Collections Trials will be spread around the County.
- All non-collection limited jurisdiction cases, including limited jurisdiction PI cases, will be handled by two Master Calendar Courts in Mosk. These are different MC Courts from the above referenced PI MC Courts. Trials of limited jurisdiction PI cases will be spread across the County.
- All Civil Harassment cases will go to Family Courts.
- All Probate cases will be in Mosk (shuttering 7 to 9 branch probate courts); however, a bench officer MAY “travel” to conduct some guardianship or conservatorship hearings in some branches.
- All Small Claims will be heard only in six Courthouses (Lancaster, Mosk, Alhambra [for the entire Eastern part of the County], Van Nuys (north), Norwalk, and Inglewood).
- Unlawful Detainers will be heard only in four Courthouses (Mosk, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Pasadena).
- The Temporary Judge (Judge Pro Tem) AND ALL Court-run ADR programs will be discontinued.
- Judges, Commissioners will focus on one, or possibly two types of cases only. There will be Geographic Hubs for some types of cases (as with Probate, supra)
- Further reductions in Courtrooms will occur, as will further reductions in Courtroom staff.
- There will be NO Court-provided Court Reporters for Civil matters. The Court will likely retain Court Reporters for some types of matters such as Family law.
- One court liaison will serve two to three Courtrooms–so the Courtroom will have only a Judge or Commissioner and a clerk most of the time.
- CCW will still operate as it now does; all complex cases, asbestos exposure cases, and class actions will be handled there as they are now. However, the Court is considering certain operational changes to endeavor to eliminate the volume of paper that must be processed in the Complex Cases.
- Settlement Courts will be maintained in the current numbers in the Districts, including seven downtown. Specific locations not yet determined.
- All Counsel are encouraged by the Court to significantly reduce their law & motion activity and to pursue ADR outside the Courts.