Federal Judges Declare Emergency, Say Funding Cuts Threaten Defenders


Federal courts officials asked the White House for emergency funding, saying the judiciary does not have the budget flexibility to absorb the large mandatory budget cuts that have caused furloughs in the nation’s federal public defender and court offices, Legal Times reports. The U.S. Judicial Conference said the courts need an emergency appropriation of $73 million—$41 million for federal public defenders and $32 million for court operations. The money would save 550 jobs in public defender and clerk offices, and prevent 24,000 furlough days for 5,000 employees.

The request connected the emergency funding to the Boston Marathon bombing, saying $5 million for projected representation costs “for high-threat trials, including high-threat cases in New York and Boston” that federal public defenders would have been able to absorb had the sequester not happened. The courts want to replace part of the $350 million overall cut to the federal courts budget as part of sequestration earlier this year, said U.S. Circuit Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the judicial conference, and Judge Thomas Hogan, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “The judiciary is confronting an unprecedented financial crisis that could seriously compromise the Constitutional mission of the United States courts,” they said. “We believe our supplemental request meets the threshold for receiving an emergency designation.”

Comments are closed.