Drop In Civil Cases Tracks With Budget Cuts

A new report showing a decline in civil cases is sure to fuel debate over cause and effect. Do reduced court hours, long lines, years-long waits for trials and increased fees reduce our tendency to seek justice, or are we just finally getting along better? The Judicial Council creates the state-mandated report annually, but this is the first one to be made public.
The Courthouse News Service, in a story by Maria Dinzeo, says we’ve seen a “steady decline in civil and lesser criminal filings over the last 10 years, coinciding with the decrease in funds for court operations and police departments, according to statistics presented to the state’s Judicial Council.” The CNS adds that “Judges on the council seemed concerned that the filing information published without analysis could be used against the courts, in a time when the judiciary is working to restore funding and educate lawmakers about court workloads.”
“You can see over this 10-year trend a steady increase in statewide filings up to almost an historic point above 10 million filings just before the budget cuts hit the branch. Then you see a decreasing trend over the last several years of ongoing cuts,” says a researcher with the Administrative Office of the Courts.
These are the kinds of numbers that will be used by both sides of the funding debates. Check out the CNS story here.