State/Local Funding

The Hawaii Judiciary is primarily a state funded system. 

The state pays for the salaries of judges, support staff and clerical staff and for trial court technology, operating expenses, local courthouses and equipment.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the Hawaii judicial system increased from $145.4 million in FY12 to $148.6 million in FY13.   
  • State general fund appropriations increased from $132.6 million to $134.9 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary fell from 2.39% to 2.34% in FY13.
  • Over the past four years, funding for technology increased 5%.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch provides the Executive Branch with its budget request, but the Executive Branch has no authority to approve/disapprove the Judiciary’s budget request submitted to the Legislature.
  • The Chief Justice has the authority to move funds between Judiciary programs if necessary.
  • While the courts have some funding in the Computer Systems Special Fund to provide some technology to help meet some of the public and court demands for technology, the level of funding is by no means sufficient.  The Fund does have some funding available to continue to make some of their needed enhancements.
  • The introduction of these technologies, such as e-filing for the appellate and criminal trial courts, has enabled the courts to provide enhanced court services to the attorneys and the public.  The public can view case information and can purchase filed documents on-line.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased by 1%.  This coming year, the number of judges, the number of staff positions and funding for court operating expenses will remain the same.

Service Reductions: 

  • Over the past four years, the Hawaii courts have reduced hours or operation, imposed staff layoffs, delayed filling vacancies in the clerk’s offices and in judicial support positions and delayed jury trials.  They have eliminated vacant staff positions and have restricted travel.  The courts have reduced the purchase of service contract expenditures for treatment, shelter and victim services programs.  These reductions will continue in the coming year. 
  • These reductions have resulted in reduced service to the public, limited access to court services, produced delays and backlogs in the disposition of cases and diverted resources from civil to other mandatory case types.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the courts have reduced the salaries of judicial officers and court staff.  Judicial officers were furloughed.  The judges not only received a 5% pay cut; they did not receive their scheduled salary increases set by the Commission on Salaries for the fiscal years 2010 through 2013. 

Efficiency Measures:  The Hawaii courts have implemented e-filing, an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, electronic workflow and e-payment of fees and fines.  They have implemented a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to court records.   In the coming year, they will enable law enforcement to file e-Citations.

Business Processes:  The courts have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings and now use videoconferencing of arraignments and detention hearings for detained adults and juveniles.

Service reductions have resulted in the Hawaii Judiciary being in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  Budget cuts from $150 million in FY09 to $135 million in FY13 have meant a reduction in services provided by and through the Judiciary, especially in the purchase of services related to providing victim/client/offender treatment, services and support.  The budget cut and loss of positions in FY10 has contributed to some delays in other services and the ability to perform certain functions in a desired manner. 

Reports and Articles

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