State/Local Funding

  • The Virginia Judiciary is funded primarily by the state. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts, for the salaries of trial court judges and trial court clerical staff and for trial court technology and operating expenses.  Trial court judicial support staff and local courthouses and equipment are paid by local funding bodies.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Virginia’s total state and federal grant appropriation was increased from $373.5 million in FY12 to $381.3 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $362.8 million to $370.6 million; the percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary dropped from 2.23% to 2.15%.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay relatively the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch does not present the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch.  The appropriation for the Judicial Branch is included in the Governor’s Budget Bill.  The Chief Justice and Executive Secretary meet with the Governor and Legislative money committee chairs to advocate for the Judiciary.
  • The Judicial Branch does have budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items.  The Judicial System is required, however, to request approval to move funds between courts/agencies, i.e., between the circuit courts and the district courts.
  • The FY13 budget does not enable the courts to provide nor enhance necessary technology to meet the demands of the public. 
  • The introduction of technologies has not enabled the courts and others to provide and receive enhanced court services.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years, the number of judges has remained the same; spending on trial court operating expenses has been increased by 1%.
  • In the coming year, the number of trial court staff will increase by 4%.  The amount spent on trial court operating expenses will increase by 2%. 

Compensation:  Over the past four years, salaries of judges and court staff have been frozen and will continue to be frozen in the coming year in FY12/13.

Service Reductions: 

  • Over the past four years, the Virginia courts have had staff layoffs and have delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerks’ offices.  In the coming year, they will delay filling judicial vacancies.
  • These service reductions have resulted in increased delays and backlogs and in resources being diverted from civil to other mandatory case types. 

Efficiency Measures:  The Virginia courts have implemented an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, e-citations by law enforcement agencies, e-payment of fines and fees and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records.  In the coming year, they will implement e-filing.

Business Processes:  The Virginia courts have implemented remote videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants and detained juveniles and remote videoconferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency.

The Virginia courts are in a worse position than in FY09 to provide access and timely justice, primarily due to improvements in technology.  If the budget situation improves, they will fill existing judicial vacancies.

Reports and Articles

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