U.S. Courts: Budget Cuts Could Cause Case Delays, Skimpy Criminal Defense


Congress needs to restore funding to the federal court system or risk problems like lengthy case delays, inadequate counsel for criminal defendants, and reduced safety at courthouses, Judge Julia Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit told a congressional appropriations panel yesterday, the National Law Journal reports. Gibbons, chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s budget committee, said she is “more concerned than ever” about how well the justice system can function after the $350 million cuts to the courts, part of broader mandatory cuts called sequestration. The federal courts have requested Congress restore funding levels to their 2014 budget, as well as provide a $180 million increase from the 2013 budget. Federal public defenders will be particularly hard hit because there are few areas to cut other than personnel and rent. The courts expect significant staff furloughs and delays in paying private attorneys. “These cuts will affect the judiciary’s ability to provide quality defense counsel for indigent defendants,” Gibbons said.

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