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329 L.A. Superior Court employees laid off

March 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of Los Angeles Superior Court employees are getting laid off and more than a dozen courtrooms will be shuttered. It's all part of a major effort to save money.Seventeen courtrooms are now shut down, both criminal and civil. It takes about 10 employees per courtroom, not counting the judge. Judges are protected from layoffs and they'll be shifted to other duties.

Tuesday's layoffs are part of a much larger layoff program that by September, six months from now, will cut the courts' workforce by almost 1,000 total employees.

The 329 employees laid off Tuesday morning will be given two weeks' pay and job training.

There's now a Superior Court hiring freeze.

With layoffs and attrition, 485 jobs will be eliminated by June.

A lot of those layoffs are in family court, specialists and mental health advisors who meet families before their court appearance.

Family court supervisor Marjorie Steinberg says the children will suffer the most.

"Where they're going to live, where they go to school, how much time dad gets with them or mom gets with them, it's very, very tough on children when parents are in that situation," said Steinberg. "So until they get a court order, kids are suffering and now they're going to have to wait longer for those court orders."

Three colleagues who work in document-scanning input more than 12,000 pages a day needed by courts, attorneys and their clients. Half the staff was laid off.

"It's very rough and they're close to us," said Superior Court employee Michael Tadeo. "Actually both my seatmates, left and right, got laid off. We have to, I think, work triple-time now because we have to make up for the losses."

Defendants in criminal trials have constitutional rights to be charged and have a speedy trial without delays caused by layoffs.

The court estimates that by the time everything's in the pipeline, all the layoffs, all the courtroom closures, it will be four and a half years of delays, and it's all up to the state legislature.