SLO presiding judge says state of courts is mostly stable

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Presiding Judge Barry LaBarbera shared some good news in his annual State of the Courts address: There will be no layoffs or additional cuts to work hours for staff.

However, the court’s 145 employees will continue to be required to take furlough days once a month this year, and a hiring freeze remains in place except for critical positions.

LaBarbera gave his address at an event last week hosted by the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association.

The local court system has kept 25 staffing positions vacant to stave off layoffs and employed other cost-cutting measures to avoid reductions that other courts have had to make. San Francisco’s courts, for example, issued 75 layoff notices in the fall.

The state’s budget for courts was slashed by $350 million this fiscal year from a total of $3.1 billion.

Some of the local strain has been mitigated by about $1 million in funding this year for a pilot program to develop a statewide computer program.

California’s Court Case Management System project is working to merge databases of the state’s 58 county courts — aiming to provide more information on cases online and allow lawyers and police to electronically file documents.

LaBarbera said San Luis Obispo County’s pilot program will be the first in the state to go live in late 2013.