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State courthouses and Judiciary offices will be closed for pair of Fridays a month


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POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

All state courthouses and state Judiciary administrative offices will be closed two Fridays per month starting next month because of state employee furloughs.

Chief Justice Ronald Moon released a schedule yesterday that can be found at hsblinks.com/155.

Moon said he chose the furlough days in coordination with agencies that work with the Judiciary, including the state Department of Public Safety, whose deputy sheriffs transport defendants to and from court and provide court security, and the state Department of Education, to accommodate Judiciary employees whose children attend public schools.

However, the Judiciary's furlough schedule does not exactly match the furlough schedules of the DOE and the executive branch departments.

One of the Judiciary's furlough days for November and both days for December are different than those for other state departments. And one day each in January and February is different from other state departments and DOE.

State Public Defender Jack Tonaki is puzzled over the differences.

The Office of the Public Defender is part of the Department of Budget and Finance. The different schedules mean deputy public defenders will lose four court days in December instead of two — the two days they will be on unpaid furlough and the two days the courts will be closed.

The state's 93 deputy public defenders, who are not members of any public employee union, started unpaid furlough days last month. Tonaki says he does not know whether the furloughs are causing a caseload backlog.

Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle said the furloughs increase the likelihood that cases will get backlogged.

If there is a backlog, Moon says the Judiciary will take steps to alleviate it.

The different schedules also mean there will be some days the courts will be open but their parking structures will be closed to the public, and some days the courts will be closed but the parking will be open.

The state Parking Control Branch is part of the Department of Accounting and General Services.

Judges presiding over trials directed jurors to park in nearby private lots yesterday. The Judiciary reimbursed jurors.

For purposes of calculating court deadlines, the Hawaii Supreme Court has ordered that each furlough day will be treated as a Saturday or Sunday.