How do we pay for this


A high-profile case can be a substantial additional burden on any court in a myriad of ways, including financial.  As there is significant variance nationally in the ways trial courts are funded, it is not possible to provide clearly defined instructions for courts facing the financial challenges as a result of a high-profile case.  However, there is some guidance that can be provided which may help courts manage this issue.

Under ideal circumstances for courts receiving primarily county-level funding, the funding body should be notified periodically during budget cycles that the submitted budget does not include any extraordinary expenses that could be incurred from a high profile case.  This puts the funding body on notice that the request for funding is for ordinary court operations.  In the event that the court needs to return to the funding body in the future for an additional allocation due to a high-profile case, it may significantly help the party making the request as the funding body was already on notice that the eventuality could happen.

Once it is clear that the case in question will be a high-profile case and the high-profile case team has been assembled, the trial judge should direct the team to identify required expenditures and estimate actual cost.  From this basic information, it will be possible to calculate any additional monies that will be required.  One reasonable additional approach would be to calculate two budgets, one assuming that the case will plea/settle shortly before trial and one that assumes that the case will be tried.  This detailed budget can then be used to support the supplementary budget request.

The high-profile team needs to remember that there may be substantial additional costs for justice system partners, primarily local law enforcement.  Although these agencies will likely already be participating on the high-profile team, to the extent they are not present an effort should be made by team members to put them on notice.

The high-profile team should not forget that some costs may be borne by the media.  If the media has requests any modifications to the physical structure of the courthouse or any additional IT infrastructure, it may be reasonable to ask them to pay for part or all of the costs.  The media has been compliant with these requests in many jurisdictions.  Although it is not essential or even desirable that the trial court judge conduct these negotiations, it will be beneficial to have him or her involved with the early dialogue.  One critically important point is that the media should not be paying for the privilege of reporting on the case as they already have a constitutional right to do so.  Rather, they are paying for upgrades which they themselves will use to improve their coverage of the case.  

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