Now that it has happened, nobody seems to know exactly how bad the fallout from the sequester will be. It’s really too early to tell how things will shake out. But, I am afraid lots of folks will be hurt and our nation’s economy will suffer. The gridlock in Washington, D.C. has three groups of lawyers agreeing on one thing. That is, the third wing of government – the Courts – will be affected in a negative manner. The respective leaders of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the American Bar Association (ABA) and DRI — the voice of the Defense Bar, warned in a joint statement released in early March 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 presidents of the three justice organizations stated:
The federal judiciary and every individual and business that depends on our courts will bear the burden for Congressional deadlock through costly delays. Sequestration 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 urged policymakers to provide adequate funding for federal and state judiciaries. They were correct when they said: “Access to justice is a promise that would be too costly for our country to deny.” Our leaders, in structuring a resolution of sequestration, must find a way to keep the doors to the Courthouse open. The American people cannot afford to have the court system shut down.
Source: Statement from AAJ
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