County Receives Additional Funding For Courthouses

By Mario Conde

Hope is still around to keep the Calexico Court House open since the announcement last week that the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee 5 on Public Safety took action today to increase trial court funding by $100 million.

The possible closure of the Calexico Court house has been around because of the lack of funding by the State of California and has forced the closure of many courts around the State. Here in the Imperial Valley, the closure could hit the County Juvenile Court and the Calexico Court. Last week in a statement by Assemblyman Manuel Perez (D-Coachella) applauded the increase of funding to the state committee and hoped this could stop the possible closure of the courts in his district.

“Inadequate funding has placed our court houses at risk, forcing them to cut hours, reduce services, or even close their doors,” said Pérez. “This impacts our communities, our justice system, and public safety. Today’s budget action is an important step to help maintain basic operations of court houses throughout the state and close to home in Blythe and Calexico.  I will continue to press this issue as budget negotiations progress.” Perez said in a news release statement last week.

While the Calexico and Juvenile Courts face closure and are still targeted for closure, the two courts in Brawley and the one in Winterheaven are not facing closure at this time. Nonetheless of the increase of funding, the Calexico court is still targeted for closure by then end of June. Imperial County Superior Court Executive Officer Kristi Kussman gave a presentation to the Calexico City Council early this month to explain the reasons as to why of the closures. If the closures do occur, Kussman said that juvenile court will be moved to El Centro and the jail court will be moved to Brawley.

The Calexico City Council and County Board of Supervisors have also expressed their displeasure on the possible closing of local courts since it will increase the cost to the county’s justice system.

Supervisor District 1 John Renison said that the County Board of Supervisors will take action on the next meeting and will ask to hold off on the closure of the court in Calexico.

“I’m optimistic that we will keep the courts open but we need to keep fighting to keep it open.” Renison said. Supervisor Renison hopes that at least the Calexico court continues to be open at least two days at week.