Archive for the 'Court Funding' Category
In the wake of across-the-board budget cuts, the federal courts are asking the White House for an emergency infusion of $73 million, including $41 million for federal public defenders.
“The judiciary is confronting an unprecedented financial crisis that could seriously compromise the Constitutional mission of the United States courts,” stated the letter by Circuit Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s budget committee, and Circuit Judge Thomas Hogan, who heads the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, according to a Blog of Legal Times post. “We believe our supplemental request meets the threshold for receiving an emergency designation.”
The request outlined both operational and public defender needs and mentioned court proceedings tied to the Boston Marathon bombing. Five million dollars of the request would go for expected representation costs “for high-threat trials, including high-threat cases Read more
In San Diego, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the offices for the Federal Defenders are only a few blocks apart, yet they have been affected quite differently by across-the-board federal budget cuts, says the U-T San Diego News.
Federal Defenders of San Diego is a private nonprofit funded by the government. Under the recent budget cuts, known as sequestration, all staff will have to take six unpaid furlough days.
It’s the opposite story at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since Attorney General Eric Holder announced in an April 25th memo that department employees will not be furloughed this fiscal year.
Besides San Diego, federal public defenders offices across the country are reducing hours and public services (see Gavel Grab). This has led to criticism that budget cuts are affecting public defenders and prosecutors differently, the article says. Read more
Legislation by Congress, signed into law by President Obama, to end flight delays caused by federal budget cuts is but a piecemeal action and fails to address delays in the delivery of justice, Justice at Stake told congressional leaders in a letter of concern.
“JAS worries about such a piecemeal solution, which wholly ignores the federal courts,” stated Bert Brandenburg, JAS executive director. “[S]uch legislation risks sending a message to the American public that Congress cares more about people waiting for flights than waiting for justice.”
The letter asked House and Senate leaders “to urge decisive action to identify a bipartisan solution to allay the damage that sequestration is beginning to cause.” Across-the-board budget cuts triggered on March 1 are called “sequestration,” and they have been felt in courts across America (see Gavel Grab).
“The budget cuts are influencing prosecution decisions, causing delays in trials, and forcing the furloughs of public defenders,” the letter explained, and it noted a recent op-ed about sequestration written by federal Judges Charles Clevert and Joseph Rodriguez (see Gavel Grab).
Sequester used to refer to what judges did to juries to keep their knowledge of the case restricted to what happened in court, writes Walt Nett in a Lubbock Online blog, but now the word has an entirely new meaning for the courts.
Under federal budget cuts known as sequestration, hearings in federal court are more likely to be delayed, Net says. Federal public defenders are facing furloughs, and are more limited now in their time to meet with defendants.
We are guaranteed to a fair and speedy trial under the Constitution, Nett writes, but that right is undermined when lawmakers can’t agree on a federal budget.
Last week, members of Congress took up a discussion on sequestration’s impact on commercial air travel. If Congress is willing to prevent delays to air travel, then why not also step in to help the federal public defenders uphold a constitutional right to a speedy trial, Nett asks.
The California Judicial Council approved a highly anticipated proposal to revise funding methods for state courts on Friday, reports the Press-Enterprise.
The members of a Trial Court Budget Working Group were appointed to research and propose a new funding model that would boost allocations to underfunded courts, such as those in Riverside and San Bernardino County, according to Courthouse News Service.
Under the new formula, state funding will be based on workload of the courts, including the number of case filings the courts receive. Courts in San Bernardino County and Riverside County will receive more funding, while courts in areas such as Santa Clara County will get less than they have received in the past. Read more
Across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, are causing delays in court cases and depleting the resources of federal public defenders.
The Boston Marathon bombing suspect’s trial may be delayed due to staff furloughs at the federal public defender’s office that has agreed to represent him, reports the Associated Press.
On Thursday, members of the Federal Bar Association met with members of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill to appeal for adequate funding of federal public defenders’ offices. Read more
California’s judicial leaders are planning to implement a Robin Hood-style distribution of limited court funds by taking money going to courts in Northern California, and sending it to other courts throughout the state, reports the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
This shift in funding will likely impact the court’s ability to resolve civil cases quickly, the article says. The proposed plan is an effort to fix imbalances in funding state courts that have persisted throughout the years.
In San Bernardino County, courthouses have been shut down in an effort to save money, but those courts are about to receive an additional $13 million in funding under the formula. Read more
Due to across-the-board budget cuts on the federal court system, the lawyers defending Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are being forced to take three unpaid weeks off even as they prepare his defense, reports the Associated Press.
Federal public defender Miriam Conrad’s office in Boston was appointed to represent Tsarnaev, but her office will have to complete the three furloughed weeks before the end of September, the article says.
Public defenders in the trial for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law requested that his case be delayed due to budget constraints (see Gavel Grab). U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has called it “extremely troublesome” and “stunning” that these budget cuts are delaying prosecution.
Federal judiciary leaders are planning to send a request to the Office of Management and Budget later this month to ask Congress for more than $51 million in extra funding for 2013 due to the impact of across-the-board budget cuts.
According to the Federal Times, the federal public defender program has lost $51 million already to the budget cuts, known as sequestration. Criminal prosecutions are being delayed without public defenders available to represent clients who can’t afford legal costs, said Chief Judge William Traxler in a statement. He is chairman of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
The courts are losing almost $350 million under sequestration, the article says. In his statement, Traxler said the cuts were “unsustainable,” and threatened the courts’ “responsibilities under the Constitution,” according to Courthouse News Service. Read more
Two federal district court judges in Washington, D.C. are sounding an alarm that automatic budget cuts threaten the rights of indigent defendants to publicly funded counsel, and the strong reputation of the U.S. courts is imperiled as a result.
Judges Reggie B. Walton (photo at left of two) and Paul L. Friedman (photo at right of two) sum up their concerns this way in a Washington Post op-ed entitled “Public defenders shouldn’t suffer under sequestration:”
“Particularly as concerns grow about wrongful convictions, it is distressing to see resources so dramatically diminished for those who protect the rights of the poor in the criminal justice system. And the judiciary is virtually powerless to do anything about it. We appreciate that the country’s fiscal problems must be addressed. But the effect of sequestration on the courts severely threatens the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to those accused of crimes and, in the process, threatens our federal judiciary’s reputation as one of the world’s premier legal systems. This is a price we cannot afford to pay.”