The Judicial Branch, which is still figuring out how to balance its budget, is considering closing New Britain Housing Court and shifting the case load the Hartford, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Branch confirmed Monday.
Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Branch, said all three employees who work at the New Britain Housing Court will be retiring Oct. 1.
Raphael Podolsky, an attorney with Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut, said he’s concerned about what impact this will have on the fourth largest housing court in the state.
He said retirements shouldn’t dictate which housing court closings and instead the branch should think about how it will affect people’s access to the courts.
New Britain is one of six housing courts in the state.
Podolsky said he doesn’t believe it’s a good idea to consolidate the nearly 2,000 eviction cases from New Britain with the 4,500 in Hartford. He said that will increase the case load in Hartford by 50 percent.
Also that doesn’t take into account the difficult commute for tenants from Bristol and New Britain, Podolsky said.
“The system won’t work for people,” Podolsky said.
On the other hand Podolsky said he doesn’t know to what extent the branch has considered alternatives.
Click herere to read the letter from the Citizens Advisory Council for Housing Matters.
Stearley-Hebert said nothing had been decided and deciding what to do with the court is currently under discussion. Any plan will be implemented by Nov. 1.
“We’re still exploring options,” she said.
In addition to considering closing New Britain Housing Court the Judicial Branch announced it will no longer be leasing parking space across the street from the Danbury Courthouse.
“Unfortunately the combined number of staff and jurors means that there will no longer be sufficient space to allow members of the public and the Bar to park onsite. An electronic access gate will be installed shortly. We regret any inconvenience that these necessary changes may cause,” the note on the Judicial Branch website reads.
Last month the Judicial Branch closed the New Haven Juvenile Jail to save $2.5 million.
Michael P. Lawlor, Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice issues, said in August that the reason the closure of the New Haven operation is possible is because the number of juvenile’s in detention is dropping, and New Haven is the oldest of the three facilities.
“All three facilities are not even half full,” Lawlor said.
He said as a general rule you want to have these kids close to their families, “but we’re talking about a really small number of kids.”