Barstow, Big Bear and Needles Courthouse Closures

Barstow, Big Bear and Needles Courthouse Closures

On January 31st, Supervisor Ramos and Supervisor Lovingood held a meeting regarding the closures of the courthouses in Barstow, Big Bear, and Barstow. Our court system is funded by the State of California. Due to budget cuts, these courthouses are scheduled to close in May. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss possible solutions to this issue that can take place at the County level.

During the meeting, the two Supervisors were briefed on the status of court funding for San Bernardino County by Court Executive Officer Stephen Nash. Following the overview of the cuts already experienced by our court system, the attendees had a productive discussion of possible solutions in the short-term to mitigate the impact that will be felt by residents in the affected areas.

Providing adequate and affordable transportation and utilizing remote courthouse technology are two short-term solution ideas that Supervisor Ramos and Lovingood are committed to investigating. All were in agreement that residents must have easy accessibility to the courthouses they will be reassigned to following these closures.

The discussion also included ideas for long-term solutions to the inequitable state funding of our court system. “It is vital that we have our voice heard at the state level. We must come together for the betterment of San Bernardino County as a whole,” stated Supervisor Ramos.

Those in attendance agreed to continue to explore alternatives for short-term solutions and to work towards the long-term goal of achieving equitable funding of our court system at the state level.

On February 19th, the Board of Supervisors discussed this issue during their first study session. Testimony was given on the impact of historic and current underfunding from the State for our court system. Mayors Bill Holland (Hesperia), Julie McIntyre (Barstow), and Jay Obernolte (Big Bear) were present to represent residents who will be affected by these closures. At the conclusion of this session, the Board directed the County Chief Executive Office to prepare an item for consideration at the February 26th Board meeting.

On February 26th, the Board adopted a resolution of support for efforts to provide adequate, equitable, and ongoing funding for the San Bernardino Superior Court. This will allow the County to engage the State Legislature, local municipalities and other invested stakeholders to ensure continued timely access to justice is available to all San Bernardino County residents. The Board also approved a recommendation to allow the County Administrative Office, in conjunction with County Counsel, to develop a strategy to work with the community to address issues affecting San Bernardino Superior Court including underfunding and staffing levels.