Constitutional Law

Conn. to Close 4 Courthouses, Lay off 452 to Cut $38M from Budget; Expect Civil Case Delays

To meet a required reduction of a little over $38 million in its fiscal year 2012 budget, the Connecticut court system plans to lay off 452 valued employees, close four courthouses and six law libraries, among other facilities, and eliminate another 150 unfilled positions, the state’s chief court administrator says in a report (PDF) to lawmakers.

While the criminal system has been prioritized, as a matter of public safety, and should continue without undue interruption, “our ability to adjudicate civil, family, housing and small claims matters will be greatly limited,” writes Judge Barbara Quinn. “In fact, every facet of civil litigation will be affected by delays in each step of the civil process. These delays will add significantly to the time it takes to resolve civil matters.”

The judicial branch of the state remains committed to three core principles—access, fairness and efficient case resolution, she concludes. “However, given the magnitude of these cuts and the fact that this is uncharted territory, we can no longer guarantee that we will continue to meet our constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”

As a result of budget cuts in California, the civil justice system in San Francisco Superior Court is “collapsing” and layoffs of 40 percent of the staff are expected at the end of September, the court’s presiding judge said yesterday.

Hat tip (re Connecticut report): Above the Law.

Related coverage: “Legal Services Corp. Faces Potential 26% Budget Cut; ABA President Voices Concern”

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