April 01, 2015

Federal judiciary requests $7 billion in discretionary funding

Representatives of the federal judiciary asked Senate and House appropriators last month to provide $7 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal year 2016 – a 3.9 percent increase over current funding.

Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Budget Committee, testified before the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Financial Services and General Government that the amount “achieves our goal of holding down cost growth across the judiciary where possible, while also investing in several important new information technology and program initiatives that will improve judiciary operations.”

The request also would increase the hourly rate by $6 to $134 for attorneys representing clients in noncapital cases under the Criminal Justice Act.

Appearing with James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Gibbons emphasized ways the judiciary has contained costs in recent years through space reduction and formal arrangements by courts to share administrative services. Duff’s statement urged the members of the subcommittees to include the necessary one-year extension for nine temporary federal judgeships that will expire beginning in April 2016.

The ABA supports the judiciary’s proposed level of funding and continues to urge Congress, when making budgetary decisions, to take into consideration the judiciary’s essential role as a co-equal branch of government.

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