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Judge: Continuing current sequestration cuts would be ‘devastating’ to justice system

IL Staff
July 24, 2013
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A federal judge implored a Senate panel Tuesday to provide sufficient funding for U.S. courts, warning that the general public will lose the access to justice that has been a hallmark of this country.

Judge Julia S. Gibbons, chair of the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts.

“Our workload does not go away because of budget shortfalls,” Gibbons said. “Deep cuts mean that the judiciary cannot perform adequately its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”

Under sequestration, federal courts will receive 5 percent less funding in the current fiscal year than in fiscal year 2012.

The current staffing level of the clerks of court, probation and pretrial services personnel is the lowest since 1999, yet the workload is higher now than 14 years ago.

The budget cut $52 million from the federal defender program. Gibbons pointed out that nearly 90 percent of federal criminal defendants require court-appointed counsel. The federal defender offices have downsized about 6 percent since October, and it’s anticipated that staff will be furloughed an average of 15 days for the rest of this year.

Gibbons also testified that funding for courthouse security has dropped 30 percent, leading to increased risks in public safety.

The judiciary is concerned that continuing at current sequestration levels into fiscal year 2014 would result in the loss of additional court and defender jobs, as well as cuts in services.

“Such a scenario would be devastating for our entire system of justice,” Gibbons said.
 

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

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  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

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