SAN MATEO (KCBS) – The state budget ax is hitting courts across California, and now the public will be feeling the effects of staffing and service cuts at the San Mateo County Superior Court.

The 58 county courts across the state were hit with $350 million dollars in budget cuts collectively this fiscal year, but San Mateo County presiding Superior Court Judge Beth Freeman said such cuts are not new.

“We are currently at a 30 percent reduction in the judicial branch budget since 2008, and our local staff is down by 24 percent over that timeframe,” said Freeman.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

Freeman said that the system is expecting $5.4 million in additional cuts, which already have been passed by the legislature for next year, as well. She adds that the public will feel the effects of these cuts.

“We’re actually just announcing this week that we’re going to shorten the hours that our clerk’s office is open for the filing of papers,” said Freeman. “We’ve already cut our telephone hours. If you want to talk to someone at the court you have fewer hours to do so because there is no one there to answer the phone.”

Freeman does say that criminal cases are a top priority and should be the last to be affected by the budget cuts.

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