Court Budget Cuts Called “Failure to Deliver Basic Justice”


Court budget cuts have been tightened in new ways that are being felt in courthouses and communities across the U.S., reports the New York Times. “The justice system's funding has been decreasing in constant dollars for at least two decades,” said David Boies, co-chairman of a American Bar Association panel on court budget issues. “We are now at the point where funding failures are not merely causing inconvenience, annoyances and burdens; the current funding failures are resulting in the failure to deliver basic justice.”

With dockets bulging with foreclosures and other pressing legal matters, 42 states have reduced judicial budgets in the last three years, with cuts in some places of more than 12 percent.In Glynn County, Ga., Judge Amanda Williams issued a moratorium on all civil jury trials in 2009; because criminal defendants have a constitutional right to speedy trial, she said, her courts had put them first, along with domestic cases like divorce. “You can't leave people in jail,” she said, and “you can't have somebody out there if they should be in jail.” A newly appointed judge was assigned solely to civil trials for more than a year to ease the backlog, but the budget problems remain.

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