Legislation & Lobbying

'Dire Consequences' for Courts If Federal Funding Fails Could Include Late Legal Fees Payments

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Ongoing concerns about federal funding were a key topic of discussion today at a meeting of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

As Congress continues to battle over appropriations for fiscal year 2011—which is, at the moment, funded only through Friday according to CNN, although a temporary three-week extension is nearing approval—the federal courts have been bracing for a potential budget crash.

Court concerns include “the possibility of sudden and severe disruptions of service” if a completed lack of funding causes a federal government shutdown, as well as a potential need to make painful choices about reductions in court operations if significant judicial funding cuts are made in this year’s budget, according to a United States Courts press release.

It also notes that there is worry about whether the views of the judicial branch will be properly represented in discussions between Congress and the executive branch and says budget cuts could result in deferred payments for legal fees to private attorneys authorized under the Criminal Justice Act.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “US Courts Memo Urges Hiring Freeze, Spending Cuts as Congress Mulls Belt-Tightening Budget”

ABAJournal.com: “Fees Could Keep Courts Open for a Few Weeks in a Government Shutdown”

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