San Mateo County Superior Court released a statement Wednesday warning the public to expect significant delays in its operations, as state budget reductions have caused layoffs and mandatory furloughs that will force the Court to cut public hours by 50 percent.
“The pandemic and the social distancing requirements needed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 had already caused the Court to substantially limit jury trials, curtail court hearings, and limit its operations to reduce the number of people in its court facilities,” the Court said in a statement Wednesday. “However, as a result of these budget reductions, the Court must continue limiting services indefinitely.”
The state’s recently-adopted budget includes over $54 billion in reductions, primarily due to the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has resulted in $4.5 million in reductions to the Court. Next year, 2021-22, could be worse, Superior Court Executive Officer Neal Taniguchi said in the statement.
In response, the Court is laying off 20 positions, imposing mandatory furloughs of 5 percent, or roughly one day per month, for professional, management, and unrepresented employees; imposing a hiring freeze; reducing its non-personnel budget by 10 percent, or over $800,000; and spending down all of its modest reserves. The Court also plans to suspend Family Court Service appointments at its South San Francisco Courthouse, as well as close the Clerk’s Office and the Self-Help Center.
Court office services will be by appointment only. Online chat and telephone services will be limited to the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the Court.
The public can expect significant delays in obtaining judgements, electronic file processing, fulfilling records requests and obtaining appointments to file documents in cases.
“The pandemic emergency left us with little time to plan and absorb the enormous revenue losses occurring statewide,” Taniguchi said. “We had no choice but to cut our budget, impose furloughs and issue these layoff notices.”
Taniguchi said it’s possible the state could receive federal bailout funds in the fall, “but the state imposed our budget reductions effective July 1, which left us with no choice but to act as quickly as possible.”
“If the economy does not improve markedly, we could be facing additional layoffs and continued furloughs, resulting in further court closures, and curtailment of services, “he said.
For further information, contact the Court at (650) 261-5016.