In response to budget cuts, the Superior Court of Alameda County will offer reduced services during the holiday weeks of Nov. 23, Dec. 21 and Dec. 28, according to a press release published Thursday.
The court’s budget was cut by $7 million as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Court Executive Officer Chad Finke. In order to avoid layoffs, the court established the Voluntary Time Off Program, or VTOP, which will allow employees to take unpaid leave during the three holiday weeks. With fewer employees at work throughout those weeks, the court will have to reduce the services it provides, Finke said.
During the weeks of reduced service, the press release stated, the court will not summon new jurors and will limit the types of cases presented at hearings. The court will still offer telephone and live chat services, emergency order review and processing, document filing and limited public records searches.
“As an ‘essential government function,’ we recognize that access to justice must persist, even in the face of a global pandemic and the resultant budget cuts,” Finke said in an email. “So while we may not be able to move at quite the same pace during the three VTOP weeks, the Court will be here, and will be open to serve the people of Alameda County.”