Nationally known lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies convened a meeting in Concord, N.H., this week to shed light on a little-noticed crisis: the crippling impact of budget cuts on our nation’s courts, writes Tony Mauro of the National Law Journal in USA Today. The judiciary’s budget was cut in 29 states this year, says the National Center for State Courts.
In Georgia, courts close their doors sporadically and court personnel ask vendors to donate pens and pencils. New York state courts have been slammed with a $170 million budget cut. Weekend arraignments might be canceled, raising the possibility that criminal suspects will be released because of laws barring extended imprisonment without being charged. In Alabama, jurors are asked to serve for free. “Our courts today resemble a dying tree that you prop up in your front yard so that the landscaping looks OK,” said Oregon Chief Justice Paul De Muniz. “But it’s a facade, because behind that are layoffs, furloughs and elimination of all kinds of services.”