The Alabama State Bar has called on the Alabama Legislature to fully fund the court system in the budget expected to be approved during the legislative session that started on February 7th. The court system is one of several areas of state government facing drastic cuts. The state’s General Fund is projected to be at least $360 million short on revenue and that will make this one of the most difficult sessions ever. A series of state funding cuts over the last decade has left the court system in our state severely understaffed statewide. This limits the systems ability to perform its duties under the state Constitution. It is a fiscal crisis that can’t be ignored.
“An underfunded court system chills investment, slows job creation and reduces tax revenue in our state,” a news release by the Alabama State Bar said. It was pointed out that the “high-volume” courts that hear family and juvenile cases, misdemeanors and small-claims disputes are especially hard hit and affected by the cuts. The release stated:
Battered women unable to receive protection orders against abusive partners; children in foster care unable to have timely adoption hearings; abused and neglected children unable to have their interests protected; and vandalism, petty theft and drug offenses going unheard — all threaten the rule of law and safety and well-being of our communities.
Jim Pratt III, a Birmingham lawyer who is president of the Alabama State Bar, had this to say in the statement:
The state bar will work to protect the independence of the judiciary, enhance access to the courts, promote affirmative legislative proposals that improve the administration of justice and oppose those proposals that burden it.
The Legislature has a constitutional duty to adequately fund Alabama’s court system. To fail in its responsibility weakens the very fabric of our state government and violates the constitution. Hopefully, the legislators will do the right thing during this session and properly and adequately fund the court system. If you agree on this issue, let your Senators and House members know how you feel.
Source: Claims Journal
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