Monday morning a consolidation plan takes effect which shifts all court cases to downtown Fresno. It's part of a cost cutting move by the state due to its budget deficit.
If you have court business to conduct, it's a good idea to arrive early because there will likely be longer lines to get inside the buildings from now on.
This new era finally begins in Fresno County as branch courts in Sanger, Selma, Reedley, Firebaugh and Coalinga are now closed to the public.
“It’s a sad reality of our economy, but also a sad reality of where we're going as a community as well,” said Charles Magill, a Fresno Attorney.
Magill doesn't believe the centralizing of services in downtown Fresno will impact filing processes as much as it will the people in far away communities.
“Basically when an officer from Coalinga is asked to testify it's going to take him most of his day and that means he won't be in the community to do the policing they need,” said Magill.
Felony and misdemeanor cases will now be heard at the Main Courthouse. Traffic matters at the M Street Courthouse. Probate and other civil matters will happen in the B.F. Sisk Courthouse.
Because of transportation issues, Magill questions how many defendants will actually show up.
“I expect there will be a lot more failures to appear,” said Magill.
However, thanks to technology, some folks can avoid a trip altogether. There are options of handling matters online, attending hearings over the phone or mailing in a Trial by Declaration.
“For the cost of a couple stamps and envelopes, access to justice can be attained,” said Gary Orozco, Fresno Co. Assistant Presiding Judge.
The Clovis and Kingsburg branches close the following Monday, August 6th.