Democratic Convention congestion prompts courts to cut back

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Superior Court, worried about contributing to traffic jams during the Democratic National Convention, is cutting back its downtown work load next month.

The court announced Friday that it will ''significantly reduce the number of new jurors'' called for cases in its Central District from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17. The convention runs Aug. 14-17 at the downtown Staples Center.

People who are called can expect to serve as jurors on criminal trials, as the court says those are the cases it will give priority to that week.

''All other departments in the Central District (except East Los Angeles) are being encouraged to set only non-jury matters where possible, '' the court said in a statement.

Court officials say the cutbacks are being made to keep jurors available for criminal trials, to reduce traffic around downtown court buildings and to free up judges in case they are needed to handle criminal cases arising from the many protests expected to take place during the convention.

Other efforts to reduce congestion downtown, and at the same time be ready to handle protests, include:

- Asking judges in areas outside the Central District to schedule light workloads that week so they'll be available to take cases from downtown.

- Asking attorneys to check on the status of their cases before coming to court.

- Offering administrative employees the opportunity take leave during the convention week.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court system is made up of 25 courts, 260 Municipal Court judges and 303 Superior Court judges.

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