Midyear Meeting

Court Fiscal Crisis Is Structural Crisis, ABA Told

The theme of underfunded courts continued Monday morning in the ABA House of Delegates with the president of the Conference of Chief Justices telling the policymaking body that “the fiscal crisis has become a structural crisis that will change how justice is dispensed in this country.”

Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson said that in his state “we projected a $37 million deficit in 2009 before $20 million was provided by the Legislature.” The prospect of a similar rescue is unlikely this year, he said.

“Texas will have to close legal aid offices, fire lawyers, refuse services to those who have the legal right to remain in their houses, and families that suffer from domestic violence will have nowhere to turn,” Jefferson said.

“How will we handle the hordes of pro se litigators who cannot afford legal representation? What will we do to prevent those who are innocent from languishing in our jails and prisons?” Jefferson asked.

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