The CCM is adding selected national news stories on what amounts to the ongoing dismantling of the American civil justice system. While we remain focused on California civil justice rationing, it’s important to know that the Golden State is indeed leading a trend. To offer an overview, we will cite a “classic” story from the Economist that sets the stage.
The magazine reported more than a year ago that “… a report by the American Bar Association found that in the last three years, most states have cut court funding by around 10-15%. In the past two years, 26 have stopped filling judicial vacancies, 34 have stopped replacing clerks, 31 have frozen or cut the salaries of judges or staff, 16 have furloughed clerical staff, and nine have furloughed judges.”
It’s only gotten worse.
But the Economist offered more insight into what the civil cuts mean:
In Florida in 2009, according to the Washington Economics Group, the backlog in civil courts is costing the state some $9.8 billion in GDP a year, a staggering achievement for a court system that costs just $1.2 billion in its entirety. To make up the funding shortfall, courts are imposing higher filing fees on litigants. This threatens the idea of the equal right to justice, says Rebecca Love Kourlis of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.