LASC Update

Several months ago we wrote about the massive budget cuts expected to affect the Los Angeles Superior Court (“LASC”), the largest trial court in the nation. Now LASC has announced how the cuts will be implemented, and it is not a pretty picture:

Total cuts for 2013-2014 will be between 56 and 85 million dollars.

Many satellite courthouses will be closed.

All personal injury cases above $25,000 in value will be venued in the downtown Los Angeles courthouse, and will be assigned to two “master calendar” judges.

Judges will no longer monitor the service of summonses and complaints, potentially allowing further delays to affect the system.

All collection cases under $25,000 in value will be handled in Norwalk and Chatsworth — locations selected because of the prevalence of auto dealerships in these venues, whose disputes account for many of these low dollar value lawsuits.

Small claims cases will be held in only six courthouses.

Eviction cases will be held in only four courthouses.

There will be no court reporters provided for any civil cases.

Court-run settlement programs will be discontinued.

These and many other changes will alter the face of civil litigation in Los Angeles in the coming years. In the face of this “new normal,” litigants and their counsel will have to be even more careful about pre-litigation decisionmaking, because the consequences of inadequate planning and venue selection may be dire, in terms of the courthouse delays likely to be encountered. Many lawyers are even questioning whether the current budget crisis will bring back the status quo that existed up to the late 1980’s, when it was typical for civil cases in Los Angeles to take close to five years to get to trial. For the sake of all the stakeholders in the legal community in Los Angeles County, let us hope that is not what the New Year brings.

New Labor and Employment Laws

This much is certain: the New Year will bring mandatory written agreements for commissioned salespersons, workplace accommodations for religious practices, and a host of other recently-enacted labor and employment laws in California. Be on the lookout for the January issue of The Entrepreneurial Counselor for our annual review of new rules and regulations affecting California employers.