Alternative Dispute Resolution Services, the Los Angeles Superior Court's department that helps resolve cases before going to court will be closed by June 8.
According to Mary Hearn, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Superior Court is closing courtrooms in 10 community courthouses as one of several steps to save between $55 million and $85 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
This step will only add congestion to the already backed up court system, said Richard J. Burdge, president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
“ADR is a program that traditionally has relieved a lot of the pressure on the courts by taking care of cases without going to trial,” Burdge said.
Tony Molino, past president of the South Bay Bar Association agrees with Burdge.
“I think it facilitated a lot of settlements without trial,” he said. “So now the system is all backed up. The one thing that helped alleviate some of the caseload is now being removed as well.”
Those in opposition to the department argue that insurance companies will no longer have incentives to settle early and that justice will be delayed dramatically. Court dates for civil trials are expected to take as long as five years to get as the system backs up.
The department will stop accepting referrals to its resolutions on Monday and on May 1 the department will close its family law settlement conference programs at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
Departments in the following courthouses are scheduled to close in April: Antelope Valley, Beverly Hills, Compton, El Monte, Inglewood, Long Beach, Norwalk and San Pedro. And the following are scheduled to close in May: Chatsworth, Glendale, Pasadena, Pomona, Santa Monica, Torrance and Van Nuys courthouses.
During the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Services opened 14,045 cases and closed out 12,906. The closing of the departments is expected to have a big impact on the Los Angeles court system.