In response to your comments regarding the Superior Court's decision to close the Lodi Courts (Lodi News-Sentinel, Jan. 19), please note that the Superior Court and San Joaquin County are separate entities.
Since the restructuring of trial courts began in the 1990s, court operations have been separated from counties and consolidated under the state's Administrative Office of the Courts. This separation includes not only operational aspects, such as staffing and facilities, but also funding.
Consequently, the county has no authority to determine the spending priorities for operation of the courts, nor to decide whether court facilities must close due to budget constraints — these are decisions made by the Superior Court and/or AOC.
In the case of the current Lodi court lease, the county's involvement is merely to serve as an intermediary for lease payments between the AOC and the city of Lodi. This arrangement was required as part of a court transfer process implemented in 2006.
San Joaquin County agrees that local costs, such as those you've cited (police, witnesses, victims, etc.) are important considerations. In fact, discussions are being held between the Sheriff's Office and Lodi Police Department on possible ways to mitigate some of the inmate transportation impacts resulting from the pending court closure.
Ultimately, however, the "county bean counters" must defer to the court in determining how and where they choose to direct their resources for court operations.
Supervisor, District 4
San Joaquin County