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New Glendale courthouse is in question

Cuts would compromise access to justice, state's chief justice says.

May 15, 2012|By Jason Wells, jason.wells@latimes.com
  • The Glendale County Building, which houses the Superior Court. Gov. Jerry Brown's latest budget proposal freezes construction of new courthouses for one year.
The Glendale County Building, which houses the Superior… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Plans for a new $123.9-million courthouse in Glendale could be eliminated by Gov. Jerry Brown's latest budget proposal.

His spending plan, unveiled Monday, freezes construction of new courthouses for one year, sharply cuts health and welfare spending and reduces state payrolls by 5%.

If his proposal is approved, it likely would force officials to table the planned 110,000-square foot Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in the 600 block of East Broadway in Glendale.

Brown's plan comes after he announced in a video post on YouTube Saturday that the state's deficit had grown to $16 billion, nearly twice what he had projected in January. The gap grew because he overestimated tax revenues by $4.3 billion, and the federal government and courts blocked $1.7 billion in cuts that the state wanted to make.

The remainder reflects an increase in the amount of money the state is mandated to spend on education.

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye called for an emergency meeting Monday of judicial leaders to determine how the courts should respond.

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“The proposed cuts to the judicial branch are both devastating and disheartening,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “They will seriously compromise the public’s access to their courts and our ability to provide equal access to justice throughout the state.”

Even before the state budget deficit announcement, officials had planned to scrutinize courthouse construction costs.

A panel of judges agreed in April to allow 13 planned court construction projects, including the overhaul of Glendale's facility, to be reassessed for potential cost savings.

The state's Court Facilities Working Group had sought to trim roughly $1.1 billion worth of planned projects by reducing square footage, renovating existing buildings, employing lower cost construction and assessing lease options.

Los Angeles Times writers contributed to this report.

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