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A closer look at court delays

With more than $30 million in savings needed, courts expecting drastic cuts

Posted: July 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.

An estimated 341 court staffers will be affected by “across-the-board” budget cuts in four areas, according to officials at Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The cuts, totaling $30 million in expected savings, are:

n Eliminating courtroom staffing in 56 courtrooms will save $6.8 million, a change that affects courtrooms in civil (24 courtrooms affected), criminal (24), family law (3), probate (1) and juvenile (4). The changes to the affected courtrooms have been under way for the past several weeks; they are already being felt across the county.
n Eliminating the court’s innovative Informal Juvenile Traffic courts will save $4.8 million and will result in the closure of 11 additional courtrooms.

n Reducing court reporter services will save $10.3 million. These changes began affecting civil courtrooms on May 15, when court-employed reporters were no longer available for civil trials.

n Eliminating 110 management, clerical and administrative positions outside of the courtrooms will save $8.2 million. These impacts will be felt across the court, from clerk’s windows across the county to central administrative functions.

Court staff affected include:

n 157 people are being laid off;

n 108 people will lose 40 percent of their salaries when they are moved to a three-day-per-week schedule;

n 86 people will lose between 5 percent and 40 percent of their salary when they are reclassified to lower-level positions;

n and 80 people are being transferred to new jobs, and typically new locations, because their old jobs have been eliminated.

Prominent cases

Several court cases stemming from alleged crimes committed in the Santa Clarita Valley have been heard over several court dates, but have yet to go to trial:
Jonathan Anker — Accused in a fatal hit and run on Orchard Village Parkway in February. Court appearances include: Feb. 29; April 4 and June 13. He is next set to appear July 16.

Eric Allen Earle — Arrested Sept. 1, 2011, on felony murder charge in the death of his live-in girlfriend Karla Brada. Prior to being charged with the felony, he appeared on misdemeanor charges on Sept. 6, 2011; Sept. 30, 2011; Nov. 10, 2011; Jan. 19, 2012 and on April 12.
He was later charged Jan. 25, 2012, with felony murder. He’s appeared in court on April 12 and June 6 and is scheduled to appear July 20.

Eric Edwards, Diamonte McGhee & Branden Higgs — Each charged in the shooting death of a good Samaritan in Canyon Country Oct. 31, 2011. Each has appeared four times since the shooting on Jan. 9, 2012; March 29; April 20 and June 7. They’re next up on July 10.

Harris Denver Evans — Accused of allegedly strangling his stepfather, Robert Gallion, on Jan. 14, 2011. Evans has appeared in court Sept. 20; Oct. 18; Oct. 19: Oct. 24; and Dec. 20 in 2011; and March 8; April 30 and June 26 this year. He’s expected in court July 10.

Dennis Keene — Charged with murder and DUI in the death of his neighbor Lori Lindlief in August 2011. He has appeared in court Sept. 7; Oct. 7; Nov. 9; and Dec. 10 2011; and March 26; April 26 and on Monday. His lawyer has twice received an extension to prepare a reconstruction of events. He is expected in court later this month.

Bryon Jeffrey Murray — Charged with vehicular manslaughter in the July 2010 death of his girlfriend, Rosemary Flynn. He has appeared in court Sept. 19; Oct. 19; and Nov. 3 on 2011; and Jan. 18 Feb. 15; March 28; April 25 and June 6 this year. He is expected back in court next month.

Aaron Clay Tanner — Charged in connection with a wild joyride through the Santa Clarita Valley in December 2010. He has appeared in court Aug. 30; Oct. 12; and Dec. 1, 2011; and Jan. 24; Feb. 22 and June 21 this year. He’s scheduled to appear again Aug. 10.

Lennie Paul Tracey — Accused of shooting his neighbor dead on Sept. 24, 2011. He has appeared Sept. 27; Oct. 26 in 2011 and Jan. 9; Feb. 22; March 27; April 10 and June 8 this year. He is next slated to appear Sept. 18, a week before the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting.

Brent Darrin Zubek — Charged Aug. 12, 2011, with multiple firearms offenses in connection with the alleged assault with a firearm on a police officer. He has appeared in San Fernando Superior Court Nov. 7; Dec. 28 of 2011 and Feb. 3; April 16 and July 9. He is to appear again next month.


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