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In Fla., Proposed Court Budget Cuts Raise Concerns of Big Slowdowns, Overwhelming Workloads

Posted Feb 28, 2011 10:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Court officials in South Florida fear that proposed budget cuts could overburden a system already reeling from a loss in income.

The governor’s budget proposal calls for a $40 million cut in the budget for court administration, resulting in possibly 600 layoffs, including positions for staff attorneys and judicial assistants, the Miami Herald reports. Judicial assistants keeping their jobs would have double the workload. Already the courts are straining to cope with a $72.3 million shortfall because of a big drop in foreclosure filing fees.

Court officials fear big case delays and an exodus of employees forced to shoulder more work and contribute more of their salaries to pensions, the story says.

The budget proposal also calls for 88 fewer positions in prosecutor offices in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and 30 fewer positions in public defender offices, the story says. Prosecutors handling low-level cases already handle about 350 cases at a time, and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle wonders how they can handle any more.

“We’re past cutting fat and cutting bone,” Fernandez Rundle told the Miami Herald. “We’re into amputations.”

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