In a decision made today in the Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, Presiding Judge James C. McGuire ruled that the Big Bear courthouse will only be open the first full week of the month, effective September. Per the statement released this afternoon, “Any matters, except criminal matters, which cannot be heard during the first full week of each month, including time-sensitive civil matters, will be heard in the Victorville District Court commencing September 8, 2009. All criminal matters presently heard in the Big Bear District will be heard in the San Bernardino District, Central Court, commencing September 8, 2009. The Big Bear District of the San Bernardino Court clerk’s office will remain open from 8am until 4:30pm during the first full court week of each month. The office will be closed on court holidays and all other days not excepted above. A drop box will be provided for the daily filing of documents at the Big Bear court facility on all court days during which the Big Bear court is closed.” During the public comment period, Judge McGuire met with representatives from the City of Big Bear Lake, Mayor Rick Herrick and Public Information Officer Cheri Haggerty, and received over 100 written and email responses to the proposed closure, which was initially announced on June 4 and said to be prompted by the State’s announcement that it will decrease funds directed to the court system. Per Judge McGuire’s office, “The four reasons mentioned most frequently in the written and e-mail responses and in the meeting with the representatives of the Big Bear community were: 1) Having deputies appear in court in San Bernardino would reduce the amount of time they were on patrol thus creating a public safety issue as well as increasing the costs of overtime for the deputies to travel to San Bernardino for hearings; 2) Driving to a court located other than in Big Bear was a burden and an expense on Big Bear residents; 3) The court provided a sense of identity for the Big Bear community which was deserving of a certain level of services from all governmental agencies and; 4) Without the convenience of a local court many legal matters which might otherwise be pursued would go unresolved.” These pleas prompted some modifications to the court’s original plan.
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