Yes, you read that correctly. That’s $30 billion with a b. That’s how much of a hit California’s economy could take if court closures continue according to a Reuters article. The media organization was given a copy of a study commissioned by LA County which predicted the worst possible scenario:
The internal study, commissioned by Los Angeles County and made available to Reuters, posits a worst-case scenario of a 30%-per-year cut to state court budgets through 2013. That would slow economic recovery by trapping $15 billion of unresolved corporate deals and disputed assets in legal limbo, and have additional negative ramifications.
Many lawyers and judges agree that operating at current funding levels over the long term would damage already strained trial courts, slow economic growth and hurt business by raising legal costs and delaying settlements.
Those seeking the services of state courts could wind up facing other serious consequences besides the $30 billion price tag.
Roy Weinstein, an economist who co-authored the study, said, “The number of filings is increasing and the pipeline is getting smaller at the same time you are trying to push more through.” He added: “The value of the (assets) that are going to be stuck is increasing.”
The potential closure of one-third of Los Angeles County courtrooms would stretch the average wait for trial to 4-1/2 years from 16 months, resulting in the loss of $13 billion in legal industry revenue and 155,000 jobs, the study showed.
“There will be a reduced demand for legal services because people are going to realize that lawyers and their firms can’t resolve problems quickly enough,” Mr. Weinstein said.
And has been detailed numerous times on this blog and in other news articles, one of the main issues that will inspire heated debate will be the continued use of $5 billion in bond funding for court construction. On one side you have people who believe that that funding should be used to restore court services and budgets. On the other side you have people who believe that use of that funding will benefit the communities in which the new courthouses are built. We get to see both side argue their positions when the legislature convenes next month to discuss the budget for 2010-2011.