Shortened Blythe court hours begin tomorrow

BLYTHE, Calif. - Shortened operating hours at the Blythe courthouse begin tomorrow.

Under the new schedule, the court at 265 N. Broadway will be open to the public only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Previously, the court had been open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The reduced hours are due to state budget constraints. In May, Riverside County Superior Court announced it was considering closing or reducing hours at the Blythe and Temecula courthouses ``because the significant continuing reductions in state funding for superior courts and resulting cuts in the Riverside court's budget require this action.''

The state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27 returned $60 million of the roughly $500-plus-million gouged out of state court operations since 2008 as California wrestled with billions in red ink.

Riverside County Presiding Judge Mark Cope said the infusion translates to roughly $5.3 million more in the local court budget for fiscal 2013-14. However, aggregate budget cuts over the last five years total $20 million.

Instead of closing the Blythe and Temecula courts, Superior Court officials implemented an alternative plan that slashed hours of operation at both locations.

On Tuesdays, the Blythe court will hear traffic, misdemeanor and felony criminal matters; felony criminal matters on Thursdays; and on Fridays, family law matters, civil, small claims and unlawful detainer matters and conduct traffic court trials.

People contesting alleged traffic infraction and attempting to get answers to questions about how to proceed, will not be able to speak with court personnel via phone but will instead have to make an appointment for a face-to-face meeting. Appointments can be made online.

Residents may also pay fines, request extensions or take care of most other routine traffic-related matter online.

Further details are available online at www.riverside.courts.ca.gov.

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