All San Diego Superior Court business offices will close at noon on Fridays, according to court officials.
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The noon closure is the first in a series of service cuts undertaken to meet historic funding reductions placed on the court by the state Legislature, court officials said.
While courtrooms will be open and operating until the end of the business day, all clerks' business offices located at all San Diego Superior Court facilities will be closed to the public on Friday afternoons.
Emergency court matters such as temporary restraining orders will continue to be handled until the end of the business day on Fridays.
According to officials, the noon closures are designed to give the court's reduced staff time to catch up on backlogs and process court filings.
"Its sad, very sad," said Superior Court Executive Officer Mike Roddy, who said residents will be hit the hardest with fewer hours to get business done. "[It will] result in longer lines, less service and more delay."
"I am surprised," said El Cajon resident Patrick Ring. "I thought they were supposed to be open just normal business hours."
10News crews saw signs outside the traffic court in Kearny Mesa that still showed business offices were open from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
While the business counters will be closed to the public at noon on Friday, the public can still handle many court matters, such as paying a traffic fine or getting a traffic court extension, via the court's website: www.sdcourt.ca.gov
Also this week, North County Probate operations closed and all matters were consolidated with, and relocated to, the Central Division Probate Court. In addition, one Juvenile Dependency courtroom in North County has closed.
The Ramona court facility is now closed, and all case matters have been relocated to the East County Division Courthouse on Main Street in El Cajon. Additionally, six criminal courtrooms and one civil courtroom at the downtown courthouse are now shuttered.
Officials said the actions are being taken due to unprecedented and ongoing state budget cuts enacted in fiscal years 2012/13 and 2013/14. The cuts are in addition to reductions imposed during the preceding four fiscal years.
"Not too happy about that actually," Ring said about the closures.
It may get worse, as Roddy said they may have to cut some of the courts 1,400 employees as well.
"We havent gotten to the layoffs yet, but it will be between 70 and 100," he said.
"Which makes no sense to me," said Ring. "They should actually be spending their money wisely and doing what we actually need instead of spending money on worthless stuff."
The court now confronts the most significant reduction of services in its history, according to officials.
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