KSEE 24 takes an in-depth look at our local judicial system. We learn how short-staffed our courts are. The state simply doesn't have the funding for more judges.
Morning always looks busy at Department 30 at the Fresno Superior Courthouse. People coming, going, and waiting. Inside it's packed. Judge Sanderson runs a tight schedule. It's like a cattle-call for criminal court.
"It's not a sprint it's a marathon here," said Judge Gary Orozco. He is the Assistant Presiding Judge. He handles the master calendar. He says there simply aren't enough judges for the case-load. The state can't spend anymore to fund more judges and guess who hurts.
"People will lose confidence in that system if it's not working for them," said Orozco.
That means longer waits for your case. Monica Trevino works in the juvenile department.
"It's a game every morning. You don't know what you're in for. Everyday its packed like that here," said Trevino.
Monica supervises clerks and judicial assistants. Everyone in her staff wears many hats and you have too.
"Theres a whole lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that public doesn't know about," said Trevino.
Here's how the numbers break down. In our criminal courts there are 32 judges doing the work of forty-one. There are deficiencies in all areas of court. Family law is the second largest department. There are six judges doing the work of twelve. Judge Kimberly Nystrom-Geist has been doing this seven years.
"Family law is one of the most underjudged areas in Fresno County," said Nystrom-Geist.
Her courtroom isn't very indicative of that work-load. It's because it's later in the day.
"I like the days where there is too much to do. So I am well suited for this assignment," said Nystrom-Geist.
"There'd be one commandment. Thou shalt not ration justice. We cant let ledgers and spreadsheets determine the quality and degree of our justice," said Orozco.