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77 County Court Workers Laid Off Amid Deficit

Heavier job losses had been expected. Cuts come in response to $57-million shortfall.

November 05, 2002|Steve Berry | Times Staff Writer

Through transfers, attrition and other belt-tightening measures, the Los Angeles Superior Court has trimmed an expected layoff of 150 permanent workers by about half, a court spokesman said Monday.

Allan Parachini said only 77 full-time, permanent court personnel were laid off at the beginning of this month to help cover a $57-million deficit for the current budget year. Just two months ago, court officials anticipated eliminating 150 such positions, effective Nov. 1.

In late August, officials laid off 168 student, temporary and probationary employees and announced the closure of 29 courtrooms. The courtroom closures forced the transfer of nine judges to new courthouses.

Jail lockups at courthouses in Hollywood, Monrovia and South Gate also have been closed.

The budget shortfall stems from increased expenditures and a $20-million reduction in state funding for fiscal 2002-03. The court system gets 98% of its funding from the state.

Statewide, the Legislature cut the $2.5-billion California trial court budget by 3.7%.

With its 600 courtrooms and $600-million budget, the Los Angeles County court system is the largest in the state. It employs about 5,500 people.

Parachini said the 77 layoffs in Los Angeles County came from all levels, "from top management to the bottom-level clerical positions." He said each level on the salary structure was cut about 15%.

Parachini said the courts saved some permanent jobs by eliminating 15 additional temporary positions in the jury services department that had been exempted from August cutbacks. In addition, 25 employees scheduled for layoffs will become court attendants, replacing armed sheriff's deputies serving as bailiffs in civil courtrooms.

Those bailiffs, who are paid more than their civilian replacements, were reassigned within the Sheriff's Department, Parachini said.

Removing them from the courtroom was part of a $10-million reduction in the court system's contract with the Sheriff's Department.

Parachini said no further layoffs are anticipated.

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