Hawaii Supreme Court orders monthly closures to ease financial problems

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Hawaii [official website] announced [order, PDF; press release] Friday that state courts will be closed two Fridays each month beginning in November 2009. Chief Justice Ronald Moon [official profile] found that the difficult decision [Honolulu Star-Bulletin report] was necessary due to the financial conditions that currently exist in Hawaii. Moon ordered:


In consideration of (1) the economic circumstance of the State of Hawaii, (2) Judiciary employee furloughs due to the economic circumstance of the State of Hawaii, and (3) other resource changes due to the economic circumstance of the State of Hawaii, the courts of the State of Hawaii will be closed on days that would, in other circumstances, be usual and customary court business days.

The court's schedule [PDF] attempts to match other state government departments that have faced similar challenges due to employee furloughs. This includes the Department of Education [official website], which has faced criticism [Honolulu Star-Bulletin report] over a proposal to reduce the number of school days for financial reasons.

State workers in Hawaii are frustrated by the furloughs [Honolulu Star-Bulletin report], which began last week. The state has justified the action, by stating that furloughs are preferable to lay-offs or tax increases. Hawaii is not the only state judiciary that has faced closures due to financial concerns. In September, California began [JURIST report] closing state courts in an effort to reduce the state's budget gap. The California closures were authorized as part of California Code 68070 [text], which allows for closure of the courts one day per month, "for the transaction of judicial business for one day per month and may adopt rules of court to implement this section."


 

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