Cut to the bone: Yakima County courts brace for $500k reduction

Cut to the bone: Yakima County courts brace for $500k reduction
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Messy divorces, child custody battles and adoptions. Yakima attorney Sonia Rodriguez-True deals with all of them.

"They all involve families and children you know, the future of children how children are cared for," said Rodriguez-True. "That's very, very important."

Family matters can sometimes take years to get through the system. Soon, you'll have to add another six months.

That's because Yakima County plans to fire a court commissioner who typically handles these cases.

The position's being dropped as part of a half-million dollar cut at the courthouse.

Martha Andrade will feel it; she's in the middle of a custody fight.

"Just worries me that if it doesn't get resolved, it's going to be pushed back even further and it just leaves my son in limbo, with really his stability," said Andrade.

Now, criminal judges will rotate to take up some of the slack which could slow down criminal cases going to trial.

Grant funding has become a lifeline for the Yakima County court system as its budget has been cut over the last several years.

But, Court Consultant Harold Delia said that's no way to run a court system. It's simply not sustainable.

KIMA asked, "At what point can the court systems not be cut anymore?"

"Well, I think we're there," said Yakima County Court Consultant Harold Delia. "That's really a good question, Michael; I think we're really there. We've taken cuts over the last five years to the point where the judges are worried that any future cuts will jeopardize the court in terms of constitutional rights as far as defendants."

It's a tough pill to swallow for the courthouse already struggling to get cases through the system.

Court administrators say they are still managing to meet state guidelines on resolving cases.

Other cuts include firing an interpreter, which could also slow down the system.