Monday, October 24, 2011

The roots of Tracy's lost courtroom

We all know things don't look good for the county's superior court system. Tracy just lost its courthouse, after all. But according to an article at, the current underfunding of the San Joaquin County courts is the product of a flaw in how the state decided to originally allocate money for the institutions.

San Joaquin County jurors can't get coffee in the waiting room. There's no bottled water in the courtrooms and no Post-It notes for employees to use. Private security guards have replaced sheriff's deputies at some screening stations and civil courtrooms.

This month court leaders took more drastic action, closing the Tracy courthouse and all but one courtroom in Lodi. Small claims court will be dark most days of the week.

San Joaquin is one of the state's handful of chronically underfunded courts, as calculated by a formula tied to caseload. Its problems stem from its days under county control. State court funding levels were set by matching county allocations to courts in the 1994-95 fiscal year. San Joaquin and other counties were suffering the effects of a recession that year, which effectively put their courts financially behind those in other counties that had fared better.

Part of the remedy, the author writes, is to change how the money for courts is redistributed. Read the rest of the article here.

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