The grim financial state of the California Judiciary is well known. In an effort to help remedy this situation, the CA Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has submitted legislation that alters the fee structure for public access to court records.
The current law, part of Government Code Section 70627(c), states if a search of records or files conducted by a court employee takes more than 10 minutes, a $15.00 fee is charged. The new law changes this to be $10.00 per name searched or per file or per other information requested, regardless of the time spent by the clerks office. Thus if one does a name search and there are 4 case files to review, the fee would be $50.00. Also, the new law raises the court copy fee from $.50 a page to $1.00 per page.
The judiciary used closed door committee sessions to write this law change and submitted the text to the governor's finance department who in turn will add this as a "trailer" to existing budget-related legislation.
An interesting article about this development was written by Courthousenews.com. According to the story, evidently a lobbyist with the AOC stated the trailer bill is aimed at "data miners." This statement would indicate the AOC (or at least this lobbyist) is not very knowledgeable about how the "court record food chain" works - meaning the lobbyist is not familiar with from who and why the majority of court record requests are generated.
The bill language can be viewed at the CA Deptment of Finance site at www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/trailer_bill_language. Click on Corrections and General Government [200-299], then view number 204, and scroll down to page 4.
Four public notices and requests for public input were recent filed by county Superior Courts.
Reduction in hours and staffing at Corcoran location effective May 13, 2013.
Los Angeles County
Closure of the Beacon Street Courthouse in San Pedro and reassignment of cases to Long Beach effective on or about April 22, 2013.
San Bernardino County
Closure and re-assignment of cases effective May 6, 2013 for courts in Barstow, Big Bear, and Needles.
Closure of Corning location and re-assignment of cases to Red Bluff effective June 30, 2013.
Under Government Code section 68106, courts must provide written notice to the public and to the Judicial Council at least 60 days before putting into effect a plan to reduce costs by closing courtrooms or clerks' offices or reducing clerks' office hours. The council must post all such notices on this Internet site within 15 days of receiving them. These notices may be viewed at www.courts.ca.gov/12973.htm.