The following quotes related to court budgets are from 2011-2013 State of the Judiciary Speeches.
The Court System at all levels must be adequately funded. Simply put, civilized society depends on the Court System, and the Court System depends upon you, the Legislative branch, to fund us so that we can carry out our constitutional duties.
In our justice system, we can’t make decisions based strictly on the ledger books because there is a broader purpose to be served. Justice is costly, but it is essential to who we are as a people.
I submit to you that equal access to justice for 38 million Californians cannot be had for a penny on the dollar.
No matter how capable our judges, they cannot be effective unless adequate resources are provided.
Although we are hoping for the best, we also must prepare for the worst, and I will tell you that we are working on contingency plans to address whatever happens going forward. I feel it is important to let you know that, if there are ultimately more significant cuts or layoffs, the branch that we know today will look very different in the future.
Despite budget cuts, we have the duty to protect access to justice for all. We have the duty to uphold the Constitutions of our state and nation and the laws that you pass. We have the duty to protect individuals’ rights.
The portion of the state’s budget attributable to the judiciary has declined. . . . and is now only about 2.3%. . . . Yet we’ve been able to accomplish results beyond what might be expected. We’ve done that through two main strategies: first, by innovating to find new solutions to long-standing challenges, and second, by bringing people together to address those challenges collaboratively.
It is a bedrock function of government to properly fund a justice system. A justice system largely based upon user fees cannot continue to provide the requisite funds to protect our communities nor timely resolve our complex civil disputes.
Iowans expect and deserve to have full-time access to justice. Whether it’s children in need, or you, your business, or your friends and neighbors who must at some time count on access to court services, it is clear that Iowans expect their government to operate a full-time, full-service, and efficient court system. Currently, all clerk of court offices in Iowa are closed every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Closures deny access to Iowans, including those seeking commitment of loved ones for mental illness and substance abuse and people seeking protection from domestic violence.
[In 2012] the Kansas Supreme Court had closed all state courts for lack of money. . . . While virtually unavoidable due to the poor state of the economy, this unfortunate restriction on Kansans' access to justice also had a positive effect. It helped convince the Supreme Court to be even more efficient, to make the best use of the hard-earned money of our taxpayers, and to continue to improve our administration of justice.
Even though the state judiciary’s budget is only ½ of 1 percent of the total state budget, adequate funding of our branch of government guarantees an independent judiciary by enabling us to discharge our constitutionally mandated duties and responsibilities of resolving disputes and adjudicating cases.
I must begin my presentation by reminding us all that the Maine Judicial Branch has been substantially underfunded for decades.
Despite the state’s economic condition, whether dipping or hopefully recovering, our work load does not diminish. The court system is a core function of government that must perform, and perform well, for our state to function and thrive.
As an independent third branch of government, our responsibilities are great but our needs are small. Our budget is less than 2 percent of the general fund.
The courts are not just another agency line item in the State’s budget. Our courts are a constitutional branch of government, co-equal with the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch.
[I]n this country we accept the decisions of judges, even when we disagree on the merits, because the process itself is vastly more important than any individual decision. Our courts are essential to an orderly, lawful society. And a robust and productive economy depends upon a consistent, predictable, evenhanded, and respected rule of law.
New Mexico (2011)
But the practical reality is this: Furlough closures of backlogged courts don’t save a dime for the taxpayer or for the government. It’s not like a furlough closure of a museum or a park or a tourist train, where you can actually save money by cutting services to the public on a given day. The work of busy courts just gets even more backed up and still takes the same resources, the same employee time, the same expense to process.
New York (2013)
“Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” This timeless maxim . . . captures our Judiciary’s steadfast commitment to deliver justice no matter what challenges and obstacles arise. Faced with budget constraints, a growing workload and reduced staffing at levels last seen a decade ago, our court system is nonetheless strong, resilient and above all, determined to fulfill its constitutional mission to serve the people of our state.
South Dakota (2011)
We must be fiscal realists based on our current situation. But we also must go ahead and plan for a future which will carry with it a brighter day. Why? It is due to the fact that there is no moratorium on crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic abuse, or the need for access to justice. If anything, our current economic woes have increased these problems.
[I]t occurred to me that the challenges we face are much larger than whether our courts are funded adequately. The question is not how is the Judiciary? We must ask instead whether our system of justice is working for the people it has promised to serve. . . .Courts exist not to perpetuate the judicial branch for its own sake, but to ensure that the conflicts human beings encounter, whether criminal or civil, are adjudicated in a neutral forum, at an efficient price, producing fair outcomes.
A fair judiciary is . . . critical to our state's economic success. A recent World Bank study indicates that the most important ingredient to the economic success and strength of a country is the presence of a judiciary that applies the rule of law fairly and impartially. . . . In a survey conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce, of the 1500 employer respondents, two-thirds agreed that the litigation environment in a state is an important factor that impacts decisions of where to locate or do business.
I recently learned that the Chinese symbol for crises is a combination of two concepts—opportunity and danger. The opportunity is to redefine how we deliver services to the public. The danger is in failing to adapt. . . . The extensive budget cuts of the past four years have required the courts to become creative and to be innovators—and we’re committed to continue looking for new, efficient processes to help us fulfill our responsibility to deliver justice.
We have devoted substantial effort this year to responding to your call to reduce budgets while maintaining the same level of service to the public...Our Board of Judicial Policy and Administration, which for you new legislators is made up of judges from all of the courts, has proposed budget cuts to the JAC which will accomplish the 4% reduction over the next few years. However, courts do not have optional programs that can be eliminated...We have also identified statutes that require us to spend money unnecessarily. For us to make significant budget cuts, this body will have to be willing to change these statutes.
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