The Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton is dropping its divorce, family law, probate and civil clerks offices beginning this week as part of a sweeping, budget-driven consolidation of Alameda County courts.
Beginning Friday, Oct. 7, all family law documents, including those relating to divorce, separation, paternity, harassment and domestic violence, must be filed at the Hayward Hall of Justice or the George E. McDonald Hall of Justice in Alameda.
Civil cases, including small claims and unlawful detainer issues, will be the venue of Hayward and the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.
Probate cases, including guardianship and conservatorship, will be handled exclusively at the Berkeley Courthouse beginning Friday, as well.
One family-law attorney likely speaks for many when he says he will miss the convenience, ease and free parking at the Stoneridge Drive facility.
"I love the Pleasanton courthouse. It's convenient," said a lawyer, who did not want to be named.
"Parking at Hayward is awful."
The cutbacks and consolidations are the result of what court officials are calling "unprecedented budget cuts to the statewide judicial branch."
"Since fiscal year 2009-2010, the court's budget has been reduced by $24.7 million," according to Superior Court executive officer Pat Sweeten.
"The court's workforce has been reduced by 20 percent, compared to three years ago."
In other changes:
* Court clerks' hours were reduced as of Monday at all courthouses countywide. Clerks' offices are now open 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
* Traffic division clerks' hours are 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A document drop box is available from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Additional traffic court information is offered on the Pleasanton division's website.
* Court reporters are no longer offered in most civil hearings as of this last Monday. Litigants may hire their own court reporters to transcribe proceedings.
* Beginning Nov. 18, juvenile dependency cases scheduled for Dept. 504 will no longer be handled at the Hayward facility. Such cases will be heard at Oakland's Davidson courthouse on Fallon Street and the Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro.
* Hayward's Dept. 503 cases are being relocated to San Leandro as of this Friday.
*The juvenile clerk's office in Hayward will be permanently closed Friday and moved to Oakland.
* Hayward's traffic division was shuttered in September and relocated to the Fremont Hall of Justice.