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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cutbacks Have Some Courts Dismissing Criminal Cases

Brian Kammer, head of the Georgia Resource Center, which represents indigent death penalty defendants in post-conviction proceedings, looks out from his office in Atlanta. State funding for the Georgia Resource Center has fallen by about $250,000 over three years. (AP)

Budget cuts are hitting the country’s courtrooms hard.

  • In Georgia, courts have dismissed indictments against people accused of violent crimes, including tossing out murder charges.
  • A family law attorney in San Francisco is now advising wealthier clients to settle disputes outside of court because the system is just so slow.
  • In New York, judges have been ordered to halt court proceedings at 4:30 PM sharp to limit overtime pay.
  • In New Hampshire, all civil cases were put on hold for a year.

The result is a legal system in crisis, according to a recent report by the American Bar Association which asked its members to assess the impact of cutbacks on the work they do as judges, district attorneys and public defenders.


  • Bill Robinson, president of the American Bar Association
  • Judith Kaye, an attorney at the law firm of Skadden Arps in New York City and former chief justice of the New York State Court of Appeals

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    This is why paying taxes is patriotic!  We cannot cut the expenses any more (on the courts anyway) and so we need to raise taxes, and/or cut expenses somewhere else.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    Once reason those lucrative daytime judge shows exits is all the advertising by Jimmy Sokolove and his ilk. Of course the clogging of the courts is all about the lawyers. 

  • Prisca M.

    In 2006, I was employed by Boston University’s library and worked until 2008 to attend graduate school in Philadelphia. There was a clear mix up in the bureaucracy that left me with an $8,000 bill for tuition remission that was overturned after my departure. For the past years, I’ve been disputing this case and when it finally reached the court last October, the lawyer simply asked for and was granted more time to research because she came unprepared for the proceedings and was completely unaware of the details of my case. Why? She had a stack of about 30 former employees that the university was suing for tuition who didn’t show up that day. I, however, had apparently caught her off guard by disputing the case. I can relate to your guest’s comment that “justice delayed is justice denied” because, as far as I can see, it’s in the lawyer’s best interest to delay a trial until my resources are diminished to the point of negating my ability to attend the court proceedings since I now live out of state.

  • J Frog

    If lawyers weren’t so dead set against tort reform, maybe they would get a little sympathy from more tax payers.   Perhaps tackle frivolous lawsuits?  (Justin Beiber comes to mind)  Those certainly don’t help the legal system’s PR.

  • Natirvin

    This is amazing…but there will be no changes until this issue finally impact the legislator’s families….

  • Josh

    How many of the cases are frivolous, ridiculous lawsuits that are a waste of the courts time?  I’m not a lawyer, but it seems that the default trend in society for someone that feels they’ve been wronged is to sue.  People want someone else (lawyers, gov’t) to fight and solve there problems for them.

  • Jgarcia_fan

    Why not charge the rich lawyers a fee to use our courts?

  • JKN

    Not “Cutbacks Have Some  Courts Dismissing Criminal Cases” but:
    Why the Separation of Powers Has Been Dismantled by Elected Republicans and is Causing Courts to Dismiss Cases | Here and Now, NPR

    I am amazed that you did not address the fact that the Republicans in office have not allowed approval of court Judges. They have stopped most approvals of President Obama’s nominations.  He has only been unable to appoint 118 nominees to judgeships in the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals and District Courts since he came into office.  The vacancies left in the courts of our land equal 147  *.    This  is a critical number of vacancies and one of the main reasons there are delays in cases being heard.  There aren’t enough judges to hear the cases.  The Republicans in the Senate thus have tied up the Judicial Branch of government which is one of 3 branches needed for a separation of powers in a functioning Democracy. ** They are:  Executive, Judicial, and Legislative.This leaves the field wide open for the abuse they are heaping upon us.
    So why, Here and Now/NPR, did you ignore this important factor?  The public deserves to know these facts and you should have aired them.  Why didn’t you?  Please help educate Americans on the rules of our government so we can make informed choices – please.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_judges_appointed_by_Barack_Obama**  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branches_of_government#United_States:_three_branches

  • M.C.

    I wish our society were more evolved at this point. Let us evolve quickly at this point.
    One solution to fix the sinking ship  that is our Nation. Decriminalize Marijuana. Let the people of our Nation who choose to smoke or otherwise utilize this substance to do so freely in the privacy of their own homes and social establishments. 
    We will save billions in government resources. We will put a substantial amount of personal money into the hands of millions of consumers. Thus a direct stimulation to our economy.  

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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