In June, 13 court employees received layoff notices that went into Aug. 1, stated a press release from the court on that date.
Budget cuts approved earlier this year by the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown are the main reason for the layoff, according to the release.
As a result, all small claims cases filed after Sept. 1 will still be accepted by the court, but, no hearing date will be set until staffing is sufficient enough to process the cases, according the release.
In Small Claims Court, the plaintiff and defendant can seek advice from a lawyer before going to court, but neither side can have a lawyer present while a judge hears the case. A small claim cannot be for more than $5,000, according to the court website.
Stephanie Bohrer, spokeswoman for the county court, said Monday, Aug. 6, that, “At this point, we have no idea” when services might resume.
The court, located at 333 E. Weber Ave., in Stockton, is also no longer accepting small claims filings online as of Aug.1.
The Mediation Center of San Joaquin County is a suggested alternative to resolving disputes, the release states. More information about the center’s services can be obtained by calling 474-8794.
“The court regrets that the changes above must take place and that the citizens of San Joaquin County do not have access to justice as citizens in other counties throughout California,” the release states. “We urge the public to contact their local (state) legislators to ask them to fully fund the judicial branch.”
The decision to cancel small claims scheduling comes after Tracy’s superior court branch was closed Oct. 3. That decision, officials told the Press at the time, was because of state-level budget cuts to the California court system.
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