U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts warned in his annual report that continued severe budget cuts would result in courtroom layoffs, trial delays and a “deepening threat to public safety at courts around the country, reports Legal Times. Perpetuating “a hard freeze at the sequester level” would extend an emergency $15-per-hour rate cut for private lawyers representing indigent criminal defendants, and reduced security for court personnel, Roberts said. It would also “pose a genuine threat to public safety” by postponing criminal trials, while delays on the civil side would mean “commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities and unvindicated rights.”
Last month, the U.S. Judicial Conference asked Congress for a $7 billion budget for the year starting October 1, a level that is less than what the Senate voted for, but more than the House approved. The budget request would allow the restoration of some staff positions and reverse cuts to drug treatment and mental health programs, Roberts said. Without naming those responsible for legislative gridlock, Roberts called on Congress to set aside politics when it comes to funding federal courts.