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Three Legal Chiefs: Safe Access to Justice In Peril

Three Legal Chiefs: Safe Access to Justice In Peril

By Gabriel McIntosh

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2013 — The respective leaders of the American Association for Justice, the American Bar Association, and DRI — The Voice of the Defense Bar warned in a joint statementreleased today that imminent budget cuts through sequestration will impinge access to justice at the state and federal levels and put court petitioners, staff and judges in harm’s way.

“The federal judiciary and every individual and business that depends on our courts will bear the burden for congressional deadlock through costly delays” said the presidents of the three justice organizations.

Sequestration, cautioned the groups, is doubly troubling for state courts, which have “endured years of withering cuts despite overwhelming caseloads.”

Recent gun violence on court grounds across the country — including Alabama, Delaware, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas — is a chilling reminder of the life-and-death importance of courthouse safety.  “Yet sequestration will leave federal court security positions unfunded” and also reduce the pool of available resources at the state level, according to the legal organizations.

The three presidents closed by appealing to policymakers to provide adequate funding for federal and state judiciaries.

“Access to justice is a promise that would be too costly for our country to deny.”

The statement issued by AAJ President Mary Alice McLarty, ABA President Laurel Bellows, and DRI —  The Voice of the Defense Bar President Mary Massaron is available here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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