Budget cuts affecting courts

December 1, 2011
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The organization released data this week showing that the economic downturn has led to considerably reduced court budgets in 42 states. Courts in 34 states have laid off court staff, 39 courts have suspended filing clerk vacancies, and 23 state court systems have reduced operating hours.

Indiana’s courts are primarily funded locally, with the state paying salaries of judges and prosecutors as well as partial reimbursements for public defenders and travel expenses. The money allocated by the state to our judiciary has decreased by nearly $1 million from fiscal year 2011 going into FY 2012. According to the NCSC, our courts have been able to keep the same number of judges but have cut the number of staff and amount spent on operating expenses. There have also been layoffs in technology staff.

The result of the data according to the NCSC is that the public’s access to courts is threatened by the budget cuts. Reduced staff, operating hours and funding have led to backlogs in handling civil cases in a timely manner.

Indiana overall is doing pretty good as compared to the rest of the country. It’s just one of 10 states that didn’t report budget shortfalls for their judicial branch for FY 2009 and/or 2010, according to NCSC. A look around the Midwest shows that most states are dealing with slightly reduced or stagnant budgets, and all are looking at ways of reducing costs – whether it’s through freezing salaries, staff layoffs or finding more ways to reduce spending and costs.
 

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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