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City Bar Urges Legislature to Adopt Judiciary’s 2012-2013 Budget Request in Its Entirety

The New York City Bar Association today urged adoption of the Judiciary’s 2012-2013 Budget Request in its entirety, calling it a “reasonable, practical document, responsive to the state’s current fiscal pressures, which addresses the need to provide meaningful access to the courts and to ameliorate some of the harmful effects of last year’s budget cuts.”

In a report, the City Bar outlines the effects of last year’s $170 million budget cut, with its attendant loss of 1,300 court system employees, 8% of its workforce: “As a result of the workforce reduction, the Office of Court Administration (‘OCA’) was forced to close New York City Civil Court buildings at 3:45 PM, and to require all courtrooms throughout the state to cease all activities at 4:30 P.M., including trials, settlement conferences, meetings with attorneys and community events. These early closings have resulted in severe hardships for litigants and lawyers, and extensive delays in proceedings,” states the report.

The Judiciary Budget appropriation request for 2012-2013 is $2.30 billion, 0.17% below this year’s spending plan, while absorbing $70 million in new expenses, primarily for required salary increases and the expansion of civil legal services for the poor. “Providing money for indigent defendants in eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, consumer debt and similar cases is essential to help ensure that the Judiciary meets its constitutional mission to provide equal justice for all.” The judicial salary increase “is necessary, and long overdue, as the freeze on judicial salaries has caused excellent and experienced judges to leave the bench and talented lawyers to forgo a judicial career for the far more remunerative private sector,” states the report, which concludes, “In sum, the budget as proposed should be enacted en toto. It is fiscally prudent, ameliorates the harshest consequences of last year’s budget cuts, and helps address vital unmet legal needs of the state’s most vulnerable individuals.”

 

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