Budget deal provides 'much needed lifeline' for federal PDs and judiciary

An attorney fee backlog and public defender furloughs are likely coming to an end as a result of extra money provided in the budget deal reached on Wednesday.

The agreement provides $51 million in extra cash for the judiciary and federal defenders, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. Though federal court officials applauded the increase, “it is small when compared to $350 million in budget cuts earlier this year as part of sequestration,” the story says.

Federal defender services are getting an extra $26 million, most of which will be used to pay fees for court-appointed counsel in federal cases that were suspended when the money ran out in mid-September. The judiciary is getting an extra $25 million that can be used for its most urgent budget needs.

A spokesman for Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts, told the BLT that the money should be enough to end public defender furloughs.

“While this doesn’t fully restore the judiciary and the defenders to the funding levels they need to fully execute their constitutional mission, this increase is a much-needed lifeline,” Coons spokesman Ian Koski told The BLT in an email.

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