San Diego County court employees sue Superior Court

Employees say layoffs violated contract

San Diego - For years, Team 10 has revealed questionable spending inside California courthouses -- everything from hundred-dollar light bulbs to billion-dollar computer systems.

Now, San Diego court employees are suing over the effects of that spending, filing a lawsuit over layoffs.

Click here to view the lawsuit and the Superior Court's response

In June, San Diego court staff and management struck a deal to start layoffs according to seniority. The agreement stated that those who worked for San Diego's courts the longest would keep their jobs.

Warren Smith, president of the San Diego County Court Employees Association, said that is not what happened. He said some employees with seniority were let go.

The court employees' lawsuit said that because of court administrators "failure to perform this duty," court employees "will suffer great economic loss." The Court Employees Association is now asking for a "permanent injunction" to stop all layoffs.

Michael Roddy, San Diego courts' top administrator, did respond to the lawsuit in writing, saying, "I cannot find any evidence that has been offered or submitted to substantiate the court's violation of the contract."

"This is the toughest time I've ever seen," Roddy said in a September interview with Team 10. "Probably the most difficult decision anyone would have to make is to let someone go involuntarily."

Roddy said state court spending was not to blame for the layoffs.

In previous reports, Team 10 exposed court maintenance costs, including hundreds of dollars spent to replace light bulbs and hang clocks in courtrooms. Other questionable spending includes a failed billion-dollar court computer project and six-figure salaries for state employees living out of state. In one case, Team 10 found a state court attorney living out of the country.

San Diego's Superior Court issued the following statement to Team 10 Tuesday afternoon:

"The Superior Court regrets that the state's ongoing budgetary difficulties have necessitated the imposition of layoffs. As required by law, the Court engaged in extensive effects bargaining with the San Diego County Court Employees Association (SDCCEA) preceding these layoffs. Moreover, the Court is imposing layoffs in the exact manner required by its labor agreement with SDCCEA. Nevertheless, SDCCEA has elected to file this lawsuit. The Court believes that this lawsuit has no merit whatsoever."
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