Budget cuts, slower courts?

August 13, 2008
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It’s budget season in Indiana, and counties across the state are preparing their 2009 budgets. The tough economic times are leading counties to ask departments to find even more ways to cut spending.

The courts, too, are being asked to find ways to reduce spending. Lake County courts may be asked to cut 10 to 20 percent from its budget – an across-the-board recommendation from the Lake County Council for all government departments. After initial cuts, Carroll County judges questioned its county council’s request that they reduce their budgets even further and go back to budgets from 2003. They reached an agreement with the council in June regarding their budget.

Cutting courts’ budgets is an issue counties are facing statewide. While it’s reasonable to expect every department to find ways to trim spending, how far is too far? When the ability to properly function is compromised as a result of reduced staff, it may be time to re-evaluate the budget. When courts are forced to cut support services or add or increase fees, it affects how the court operates. If courts are unable to keep up with the increasing caseloads, it will lead to an even greater backlog of cases waiting to be heard. Defendants will sit in jail longer, leading to possible overcrowding and potential lawsuits (which will take even longer to hear because of the backlog.)

Should courts be subject to the same percentage of budget cuts being asked of other departments or should county councils make exceptions for the courts? How can courts that have no other choice but to drastically reduce spending cope?
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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