State officials have ordered California state courts to close one day each month in order to save money.
The unprecedented move, which includes shuttering the California Supreme Court along with every appellate and trial court in the state the third Wednesday of every month, is one of the first tangible effects of lawmakers' new deal to close a $24 billion budget deficit, The Associated Press reports.
"We are very aware of the budget situation and will be closing the third Wednesday of each month ... beginning Sept. 16," said Solano County Superior Court Executive Brian Taylor. "In anticipation of the Judicial Council's decision, we have already stopped calendaring court matters for those Wednesdays," Vallejo Times-Herald reports.
Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who heads the council, said he regretted the closures but added they would be "the least of the various evils," such as massive layoffs of experienced court employees. He said he will sign up for a monthly furlough and believes that most, if not all, of the state's judges would do so as well.
"The basic mission statement of the Judicial Council is increasing and improving access to justice, and here we are closing courts," George said after the meeting.
He said the closures would result in delays in trials and more crowding in jails. Inmates who might have been released on the third Wednesday of the month will have to wait until the next day, he said.
The closures will be treated as a holiday, and litigants will receive an extra day toward meeting legal deadlines, The Los Angeles Times reports.