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The Impact of Sequestration on the Judicial System

The Impact of Sequestration on the Judicial System

By Jeffrey Jenkins

On March 4, 2013, the leaders of three prominent national legal organizations issued a joint statement expressing their concern that budget cuts as a result of sequestration will severely limit access to justice, and place the judiciary, court staff and the public at risk. The Joint Statement of Three Justice Organizations on Sequestration Cuts to Courts, signed by Mary Alice McLarty, President of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Laurel Bellows, President of the American Bar Association (ABA), and Mary Massaron Ross, President of DRI --The Voice of the Defense Bar, makes a plea to policymakers to provide proper funding for state and federal judicial system, and warns that “[s]evere and indiscriminate federal court budget reductions through sequestration combined with chronically anemic state funding for courts threaten access to justice for every American and put court petitioners, staff and judges in physical jeopardy.”

The statement points out the adverse consequences of impending budget cuts on our already overburdened state and federal judicial systems: “State courts have endured years of withering cuts despite overwhelming caseloads. As most states devote a shrinking fraction of their annual budgets to courts, communities increasingly discover that their courthouses are closed when they most need judicial remedy. In recent weeks, our nation has seen a spate of gun violence on court grounds in Alabama, Delaware, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Yet sequestration will leave federal court security positions unfunded. State courts are already hamstrung from local budget woes and the projected shortfalls from sequestration will likely mean even fewer resources for state judicial systems.”

The statement closes by calling on policymakers on Capitol Hill and statehouses across the country to provide adequate funding for our federal and state judiciaries, reminding them that “access to justice is a promise that would be too costly for our country to deny.”

This highlights an issue of significant importance to the legal team at Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc. Access to justice is vital to our clients and to society. We join these organizations in their call for adequate funding for our courts, in order to preserve the quality of our system of justice and to ensure access to the courts for all. As the United States Supreme Court said long ago in Chambers v. Baltimore & O.R. Co. (1907) 207 U.S. 142, 148, 28 S.Ct. 34, 35, 52 L.Ed. 143, 146: “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government.”

 

 

 

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