Four courts will be closing because of $77 million in cuts to the Judicial Branch’s budget, according to a statement from the judicial branch.
The courts that will be closed include Juvenile Matters at Danbury, Juvenile Matters at Torrington, Juvenile Matters at Stamford and the Judicial District Courthouse in Willimantic, according to Chief Court Administrator Patrick L. Carroll III.
The Stamford Judicial District Courthouse at 123 Hoyt St. in Stamford will remain open, and all other court business will continue to be heard.
Cases from Juvenile Matters at Danbury will be transferred to Juvenile Matters at Bridgeport and Waterbury, cases from Juvenile Matters at Torrington will be transferred to Juvenile Matters at Waterbury and New Britain, Juvenile Matters at Stamford will be transferred to Juvenile Matters at Bridgeport and cases heard at the Judicial District Courthouse in Willimantic will be heard at the Putnam Judicial District Courthouse or the Geographical Area Courthouse No. 11 in Danielson.
The judicial branch has laid off 239 permanent full-time employees, eliminated 61 temporary employees and cut $14.5 million from programs that serve adult and juvenile offenders, according to a statement from Carroll.
As of June 30, the judicial branch will no longer operate 24-hour lockups so judicial marshals who work at those facilities can be moved to locations impacted by layoffs.
Officials anticipate that this first round of closures will be completed by the end of the calendar year.
“It is unfortunate that these courthouse closings must occur,” Carroll said in a statement. “They will be disruptive and will impact many people. I want to stress that the closure of courthouses is not driven by savings generated by closing the facilities. Rather, these closings are required because of the loss of staff, through attrition, a strict hiring freeze and layoffs that have already been announced.”
“However,” he added, “we are doing the best that we can to position the Judicial Branch so that we can continue to meet the needs of the people we serve, despite significantly fewer resources.”
The Connecticut Bar Association released the following statement;
"While courthouse closings were expected given the current state budget situation, we see today’s announcement as the start of a process. Reducing citizen access to the judicial system by closing courthouses harms everyone, especially the poor. The Connecticut Bar Association believes that access to the courts is a fundamental right, critical to preserving the Rule of Law. We will continue our ongoing dialogue with lawmakers to determine whether there is a better way to achieve necessary costs savings, reverse these decisions, and keep open as many courthouses as possible," William H. Clendenen Jr, president of the Connecticut Bar Association, said in a statement.
Statement of Joe Gaetano, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 731, also released a statement, saying the Judicial Marshals understand that the state’s budgetary situation is dire and there is a need for cost savings, but they have significant concerns about how the reorganization plan and last month’s layoffs will impact public safety.
"(T)he Judicial Marshals, who were already understaffed, are being further reduced. Our courthouses, by the nature of the work that is done there, are filled every day with individuals in conflict and crisis, and the presence of Judicial Marshals in the hallways and courtrooms keeps those public places safe for all," Gaetano said in a statement. "As they implement this plan and deploy remaining staff, we strongly urge the Judicial Branch to make public safety a priority, and to ensure there are enough front line security staff in our courthouses.”