Posted Jan 18, 2012 11:19 pm CST
Massachusetts, like a number of states, is dealing with budget cuts that have stretched judicial resources to the breaking point.
But the judiciary is taking an unusual approach to funding constraints, collaborating with the Massachusetts Bar Association to mount a public outreach campaign about the effects of underfunded courts. Meanwhile, the governor is finalizing a state budget proposal that will then be debated by lawmakers, CommonWealth magazine reports.
In an email Monday to members, the state bar’s organization’s president, Richard P. Campbell, announces the new outreach effort and explains its purpose: “Since the average citizen may not appreciate the irreplaceable role courts play in his or her security, livelihood and freedoms, this campaign will aim to change that.
“Through a billboard campaign to begin today, Jan. 16, the association strives to grab citizens’ attention to reinforce that court funding does impact them. The MBA’s message will be showcased on billboards in Greater Boston, along I-93 in Dorchester and Medford; in Worcester along I-290; and in Fall River along Route 24.”
The billboards refer citizens to the bar association’s website for more information. There, an embedded YouTube clip features Campbell and ABA President Bill Robinson, top judges, an attorney and a court worker discussing, in a series of brief clips interspersed with statistical information, how state court budget cuts threaten the rule of law.
Citing examples in other states of how courts have been forced to take drastic measures when funding is reduced, the video points out that justice delayed can effectively be justice denied and urges viewers to reach out to their elected representatives and encourage them to fund the courts.
“When you are breathing oxygen, you don’t notice it,” former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts tells viewers. “When you cut off the supply, you will notice it very quickly.”