(a) (1) In making appropriations for the support of the trial courts, the Legislature recognizes the importance of increased revenues from litigants and lawyers, including increased revenues from civil filing fees. It is therefore the intent of the Legislature that courts give the highest priority to keeping courtrooms open for civil and criminal proceedings. It is also the intent of the Legislature that, to the extent practicable, in the allocation of resources by and for trial courts, access to court services for civil litigants be preserved, budget cuts not fall disproportionately on civil cases, and the right to trial by jury be preserved.
(2) Furthermore, it is the intent of the Legislature in enacting the Budget Act of 2010, which includes increases in civil and criminal court fees and penalties, that trial courts remain open to the public on all days except judicial holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and except as authorized pursuant to Section 68115.
(b) (1) A trial court shall provide written notification to the public by conspicuous posting within or about its facilities, on its public Internet Web site, and by electronic distribution to individuals who have subscribed to the court’s electronic distribution service, and to the Judicial Council, not less than 60 days prior to closing any courtroom, or closing or reducing the hours of clerks’ offices during regular business hours on any day except judicial holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and except as authorized pursuant to Section 68115. The notification shall include the scope of the closure or reduction in hours, and the financial constraints or other reasons that make the closure or reduction necessary.
(2) (A) The notification required pursuant to paragraph (1) shall include information on how the public may provide written comments during the 60-day period on the court’s plan for closing a courtroom, or closing or reducing the hours of clerks’ offices. The court shall review and consider all public comments received. If the court plan for closing a courtroom, or closing or reducing the hours of clerks’ offices, changes as a result of the comments received or for any other reason, the court shall immediately provide notice to the public by posting a revised notice within or about its facilities, on its public Internet Web site, and by electronic distribution to individuals who have subscribed to the court’s electronic distribution service, and to the Judicial Council. Any change in the court’s plan pursuant to this paragraph shall not require notification beyond the initial 60-day period.
(B) This paragraph shall not be construed to obligate courts to provide responses to the comments received.
(3) Within 15 days of receipt of a notice from a trial court, the Judicial Council shall conspicuously post on its Internet Web site and provide the chairs and vice chairs of the Committees on Judiciary, the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Budget, and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review a copy of any notice received pursuant to this subdivision. The Legislature intends to review the information obtained pursuant to this section to ensure that California trial courts remain open and accessible to the public.
(c) Nothing in this section is intended to affect, limit, or otherwise interfere with regular court management decisionmaking, including calendar management and scheduling decisions.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 41, Sec. 22. (SB 1021) Effective June 27, 2012.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018