OAKLAND — Alameda County Superior Court will close the third Wednesday of every month as part of a plan mandated by the state judicial council to save more than $84 million.
The judicial council, a state-run board that oversees county superior courts, voted last month to shutter all courts once a month as it attempts to meet a more than $400 million cut in its budget.
The closures, which begin Sept. 16 and will continue until June 16, will be treated as a furlough day for all court staff except judges. State law prohibits judges from receiving pay cuts; however, many judges throughout the state either voluntarily have agreed not to get paid for the day or have donated a day's pay back to the court system.
Chief Justice Ronald George, the state's top judge, has encouraged fellow jurists to take a voluntary pay cut as he has promised to do. The closures amount to a 4 percent pay cut for all staff, state officials said.
It remains unclear what action Alameda County judges will take, said Sarah Guenther, an Alameda County Superior Court spokeswoman.
Lorie Rethage, deputy executive officer of the Contra Costa Superior Court, said the closures are going to be treated as a court holiday for the purpose of case management, so the deadline for filings due on those days would be extended to the following day.
Whether Contra Costa County court employees would have to take an unpaid day off is the subject of discussions with the local unions. The closures are scheduled though June.
As far as jury services, potential jurors summoned for closure days are being rescheduled for future dates. Emergency restraining orders sought on the closure days will be handled in the same manner as they are now on nights and weekends, with police contacting an on-call judge on behalf of the person seeking protection.
The judicial council's decision also means the State Supreme Court and the state's Court of Appeal will shutter its doors one day a month.
"It is extremely difficult for us to make any decision that results in closing our courts," George said in a statement. "However, it is important that we have a broad perspective during these times and not take any action that in the long term may be even more devastating."
The judicial council will re-evaluate the closures in January, when county superior courts are ordered to provide reports detailing the amount of savings reached with each closure. At that time, the judicial council could consider additional closures.