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Funding cuts put Kern County courts on the chopping block

Funding cuts put Kern County courts on the chopping block »Play Video
Taft/Maricopa Regional Court is seen Tuesday, March 26, 2013, in Taft, Calif.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Justice will be served, just at a much slower rate.

Severe budget cuts by the state to Kern County's court system means longer waiting times and shuttered courthouse doors. The county is suffering from a $3.7 million deficit this year, and officials have had to make some drastic changes to make up for that gap.

Courthouses in Bakersfield, Taft and Lake Isabella will be affected.

“The people who work here, it's going to be bad for them. There's going to be horrendous lines. When I got here, the line was, like, out the door, just to get into the building,” said Sondra Hail, who said that she waited 45 minutes on Tuesday to get an informational packet at Superior Court.

Court officials say that the state has been choking back funding to Kern County since 2008. That's $9.7 million that Kern County has lost out on. Additionally, the county has been ordered to use up most of its savings.

Officials say decisions about cuts were based on efficiency and minimizing the effects of the cuts.

There will also be no more court reporters for family law and unlimited civil matters, with exceptions in domestic violence, contempts and abandonments. Parties, if they wish, may provide their own court reporters instead.

Here are the changes you'll see:

Kern County Superior Court (in Bakersfield)

Court service counters and telephone help will be cut short by one hour.

The court will close at 3 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and at noon on Fridays.

These changes will go into effect June 10th, 2013.

Kern River County Regional Court (in Lake Isabella)

Now open only on Mondays.

The courthouse will shut down completely June 10.

Misdemeanor matters will go to the Ridgecrest courthouse.

Traffic issues will go to the Metropolitan Traffic Division in Bakersfield.

Taft/Maricopa Regional Court

The courthouse will only be open one day a week, effective Sept. 9.

All felony, misdemeanor and traffic matters will be redirected to the Arvin/Lamont courthouse.