Court Budgets Ravaged in CT

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is also seeking to eliminate $50 million in a new sales-tax, revenue-sharing plan with cities and towns, while Democrats are battling to keep enough funding to ensure that property taxes on cars are cut in high-tax cities like Hartford and New Britain. (Michael Dwyer / AP)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is also seeking to eliminate $50 million in a new sales-tax, revenue-sharing plan with cities and towns, while Democrats are battling to keep enough funding to ensure that property taxes on cars are cut in high-tax cities like Hartford and New Britain. (Michael Dwyer / AP)

We reported earlier this week that Arizona’s courts are in a political fight right now, but across the country in Connecticut, the judicial system is bracing for impact.

The Hartford Courant reports, “…more than 600 workers could be laid off in the judicial branch if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s latest budget proposal is approved, officials said. Of those, 110 workers will receive layoff notices Thursday as the courts prepare for a worst-case scenario of “widespread courthouse closings and consolidations,” officials said.”

We have seen in a variety of other locations that courthouse closings often disproportionately impact access of justice for low income people. The Chief Court Administrator wrote a letter to the Governor this week decrying the cuts, saying “This reduction is both unprecedented and catastrophic in its consequences.”

Whether these cuts will take root – or whether low income people will be impacted – remains to be seen. We’ll be following the story along, and you can do so here at the Hartford Courant.

This ‘Third Branch’ Funding Story Sounds Familiar

Lawmakers who pretty much ignore budget reality. A chief executive with budget priorities that do not include some other branch of government. Massive cuts to the services that actually help citizens, but little pain for judges and prosecutors who are more or less locked into their jobs. If that sounds like California, and it does, then it’s worth noting that it also sounds like the federal government.
 
There’s a great piece by Andrew Cohen on the San Francisco “beyondchron” website that takes U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to task over recent lip service to the issue. And Cohen cuts to the chase with this: “… a Congress that tripped all over itself earlier this year to ensure that there would be no flight delays because of the sequester has been remarkably content to run our judiciary into the ground– and to then hide from the blame that comes with refusing to adequately fund the third branch of government. “
 
And how much does this sound like the conversation in California? The Cohen piece talks about a meeting between judges and Vice President Biden: “When cases lag, the Judiciary is seen as inefficient, or worse, unsympathetic to litigants ranging from pro-se litigants (who represent themselves) to individuals and companies seeking bankruptcy relief or the resolution of civil disputes to the government and defendants in criminal cases.” Cohen even calls for consideration of a slow-down strike, arguing “… if lawmakers are going to treat the judiciary like it’s a third-world operation perhaps its time to show those lawmakers what a third-world operation actually looks like.”
 
Except, one might argue, California is about to do that without the benefit of a strike. Read the Cohen piece here.