Possible Closure of the Kerman Courthouse

November 25, 2008 8:22:06 PM PST
Fresno's court system is feeling the impact of a dwindling state budget. As a result, judges are considering shutting down the Kerman Courthouse to bridge a multimillion dollar deficit. The Kerman Courthouse is a small and modest building along Madera Avenue, but for Kerman residents, it's necessary. Darrel Mills said, "We have a police department, so I'm sure they have business to take care of."

A judge only hears traffic and civil cases at the Kerman Courthouse. If it closes, people might have to drive 25 minutes to Downtown Fresno or farther to Firebaugh in order to see a judge. Mariam Garcia said, "It's going to be a hard thing to do, because it's around 45 minutes from here. I don't think people will like to drive over there, because it is so far."

Closing the Kerman courthouse will only save $150,000 a year. That is nowhere near the $4.5-million the court system must reduce in spending. In the past, Fresno County Superior Courts reduced office hours to save money. Presiding Judge Hillary Chittick says this time around cost saving decisions will be tough. Chittick said, "We don't want to be laying people off. We have a great court staff, and we want to keep them here. But we also recognize some significant constraints."

While judges are still examining what else to cut, work on Downtown Fresno's new courthouse continues. The state has fully funded the project, but the rest of the court system does not have the same guarantee.

The public is invited to a meeting to discuss closing the Kerman branch. It is scheduled for Wednesday December 17th from 5 PM to 6 PM. It will be held at the court located on South Madera Avenue in Kerman.

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