Contact:  Sandy Adkins
Communications Specialist
National Center for State Courts


Shortfalls in court budgets directly impact public

Public hearing to address underfunding of courts

Williamsburg, Va. (May 25, 2011) — The outlook for most court budgets continues to be bleak as states close out fiscal 2011 and look to 2012. During the current fiscal year, 29 state court systems saw cuts to their budgets — five were cut more than 12 percent — 13 state court systems received increases, and seven stayed flat. The five state court systems hit with reductions of more than 12 percent were Georgia, Maine, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

Courts are responding to the budget cuts in a number of ways, including reducing the hours of court operation; increasing court fees and fines; cutting staff; and leaving judicial vacancies unfilled. These cutbacks are directly affecting the public by limiting access to justice and increasing court delays, e.g., longer waits for protective orders to be issued.

To find solutions to how courts can remain accessible and efficient in lean financial times, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System is holding a hearing Thursday, May 26, at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord, N.H. The hearing, which is scheduled for 11 a.m.-4 p.m., is open to the public and also will be webcast.

Task force co-chairs David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, ABA President-Elect William T. Robinson III, and National Center for State Courts (NCSC) President and task force member Mary C. McQueen are among those who will hear testimony about the impact that underfunding has had on the judiciary. Among those scheduled to testify are the chief justices of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, The full hearing agenda is available online.

This is the second public hearing held by the ABA task force, which is scheduled to deliver a report on its findings at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto in August. For more information about Thursday’s hearing or the task force, call the ABA at 202-662-1092.

For a state-by-state look at court budget reductions and how states are confronting the shortfalls, visit NCSC’s Budget Resource Center.


The NCSC Backgrounder is designed to provide the media with statistics and facts related to current issues of interest.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation's state courts.