Calif. chief justice backs fee increases for courthouse improvements
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - Californians could pay higher fees for civil court filings, parking tickets and criminal convictions under a plan backed by Chief Justice Ronald George and legislative leaders.
The increased fees would bankroll improvements at the state crumbling courthouses.
"The physical condition of California's courthouses has reached a state of crisis," George said Monday. "Some court buildings are in such desperate shape that they no longer provide a safe and secure environment for conducting everyday court business."
Under the plan, the cost of filing lawsuits would increase by $25 to $35, depending on the type of case, $2 would be added to parking tickets and criminal defendants would have to pay an additional $40 for convictions.
The chief justice is backing a courthouse funding proposal by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata, D-Oakland.
The legislation, outlined in Senate Bill 1407, would allow the state to issue $5 billion in lease revenue bonds to bankroll projects at the worst 40 of the state's 450 court facilities.
The increased fees would pay the cost of borrowing the money from investors. The Judicial Council of California has already OK'd 12 projects for the first two rounds of funding.
The bill, to be approved, would require approval by two-thirds of the state Legislature. The proposal will be heard Tuesday in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
"Everyone is guaranteed a day in court, but in California that right is jeopardized by inadequate facilities that threaten the safety of everyone in the building," Perata said.
"It is time to invest in this critical area of the state's infrastructure in a way that does not hurt the state's general fund," he added.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at email@example.com.