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More Cuts Hitting Central Oregon Courts


It’s quiet walking through the doors of the Deschutes County Courthouse after 2 in the afternoon

You can’t view court files, and nobody is there to answer your calls. Those cuts hit last year.

When you call, you receive a recorded message saying, “You have reached the Deschutes County Circuit Court. Due to budget reductions, the phones will be off daily from 2 to 5 p.m. You will be unable to reach the court by phone.”

The Deschutes County Circuit Court has lost 17 percent of its resources, with staffing down from 56 to 46.

“The cuts have been compounding, this has been going on for the last 2 1/2. 3 years.” Ernie Mazorol III, the Deschutes County Circuit Court administrator, said Wednesday.

Mazorol has served as administrator for 28 years.

“I’ve weathered many, probably three or four downturns during that 28-year period,” said Mazorol, who’s set to retire soon.

This one is is one of the worst he has seen.

“We have been able to plan pretty well over the years to keep vacancies, knowing they are coming, making cuts while we are holding those vacancies,” Mazorol said. “But we have reached the point where we don’t have any more flexibility, and I had to let a permanent employee go.”

It’s the first real layoff, in terms of a pink slip, he has given.

Over at the Crook and Jefferson County Circuit Court, which operate together, they, too, will give up a permanent position.

The court has already closed their court counters an hour earlier every work day and reduced the number of courtroom counters, from two to one.

More cuts equals more time to process cases, and the wheels of justice slow down even more.

Deschutes County works on at least 20,000 cases a year.

“The longer you stream those type of cases out, the more problems you will have in your community, and the more problems you have in families and the whole business community,” Mazorol said.

Mazorol gave an example of the problems they face even when employees are gone for vacation or sick leave.

“What happened was, we had to start bumping cases because we couldn’t staff one of the courtrooms,” Mazorol said. “We didn’t have enough people to staff the courtroom, so the community is going to notice that cases that are set for trial aren’t going to be able to go.”

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