The Judicial Council on Friday unanimously approved a plan to grant $25 million to trial courts in order to address court cases delayed due to the pandemic. The allocation of funds will be based on each court’s unresolved caseload during the pandemic period compared to the same period in 2019. The money comes from the remainder of $50 million included in the 2020 Budget Act.

Trial courts will also be required to report to the judicial panel on a quarterly basis, giving updates on their progress in reducing their pandemic-related backlogs as well as a report on how they spend their new funds.

The Judicial Branch Budget Committee issued a report last week recommending that the $25 million be spread across the 58 California counties. The counties with the greatest decrease in daily court functions are expected to receive a greater portion of funds.

“The trial courts should be recognized for the work they performed during this challenging time—it was no small task,” Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Conklin, chair of the council’s Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee, said in a press statement. “The data does confirm courts are doing their best to actively resolve cases, but has also confirmed a significant backlog due to the impact of COVID on day-to-day operations.”

Conklin also said that after the funds are distributed, the council will reassess at their next meeting in March to see if some unused funds should be moved elsewhere.

State courts have cut back dramatically on their operations to respond to the pandemic, with many closing courthouses and in-person proceedings for the time being, using technology to conduct court proceedings remotely and instituting other workarounds as virus case numbers rise across the state.

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