The small Northern California town of Coalinga once had a full-time judge and held jury hearings in town, but the judge was replaced by visiting judges, then eventually that stopped. "Now, in the wood-paneled courtroom, a large flat-screen television hangs where the podium used to be," Green reports. The television is used for video streaming for traffic court. Most cases are held an hour away in Fresno, and last year travel expenses cost the Coalinga Police Department around $25,000.
Gary Hoff, presiding judge of Fresno County Superior Court, told Green, "We knew that closing the courts would deny people in outlying jurisdictions the availability of going to a local courthouse to take care of their business. I know others have disagreed with our choice, but financially we could not do anything else but close those courts. We have to live within our budget." (Read more)