Chief Justice Roberts says continued budget cuts would create safety risk, commercial uncertainty

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. warned in his year-end report that sequestration cuts to the federal judiciary budget have imperiled public safety and delayed both civil and criminal cases.

The cuts meant less money for security guards at courthouses, fewer court clerks to process new cases, and fewer public defenders to represent criminal defendants, Roberts wrote in the report (PDF). If “a hard freeze at the sequester level” continues, he wrote, “the future would be bleak.” There would be additional delays in criminal cases, posing a threat to public safety. And delays in both civil and bankruptcy cases would create “commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities, and unvindicated rights,” he wrote.

Among the publications with stories on the report are the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.), the New York Times and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

The sequestration cuts reduced the judiciary’s budget by about 5 percent, though some money was restored in October. Roberts urged approval of the judiciary’s $7 billion budget request for fiscal 2014. “I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls,” Roberts wrote. “The budget remains the single most important issue facing the courts.”

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “Funding cuts threaten federal courts’ ability to do their work, ABA cautions Congress”

ABAJournal.com: “Budget deal provides ‘much needed lifeline’ for federal PDs and judiciary”

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