Constitutional Law

As Lawmakers Wield Budget Ax, Courts Struggle to Do More with Less, Plan Layoffs


As lawmakers throughout the country struggle to make ends meet in difficult economic times, many are seeing the courts and legal services as an area in which cuts can and must be made.

The result is a growing list of jurisdictions in which services will be reduced and staff laid off. Among this week’s news:

In Jefferson County, Ala., an $800,000 budget cut means all but urgent cases will be slowed down significantly and court security will suffer, reports WBRC.

In Montgomery County, Ala., officials are still deciding how to reduce their expenditures to satisfy a $300,000 cut, reports WAKA. Meanwhile, 150 court employees are being laid off.

In New York, a $170 million statewide reduction in court funding will have a “tremendous impact” and require hundreds of layoffs, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman tells the New York Times. “At a minimum, you’re going to see delays in the administration of justice, without question.”

In North Carolina, courts throughout the state are being targeted for 10-percent spending reductions.

“It’s unbelievable,” Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray tells NewsChannel 36. “It will be devastating to our community. We can’t sustain those kinds of losses without it having a significant impact.”

Earlier coverage:

ABA Journal: “With Our Courts Starving for Resources, the ABA Will Redouble its Advocacy Efforts”

ABAJournal.com: “‘Dire Consequences’ for Courts If Federal Funding Fails Could Include Late Legal Fees Payments”

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