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Courts seek more than $51 million to counter sequester cuts

Apr. 18, 2013 - 12:57PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Federal judiciary leaders plan to seek more than $51 million in extra fiscal 2013 funding to offset the impact of sequester-related budget cuts on defender services, court security and other areas.
Federal judiciary leaders plan to seek more than $51 million in extra fiscal 2013 funding to offset the impact of sequester-related budget cuts on defender services, court security and other areas. (Getty Images)

Federal judiciary leaders plan to seek more than $51 million in extra fiscal 2013 funding to offset the impact of sequester-related budget cuts on defender services, court security and other areas.

The judiciary will ask the Office of Management and Budget later this month to send the request to Congress, Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said Thursday.

The defender services program alone is losing $51 million to the sequester. The program provides legal representation to defendants who can’t afford lawyers on their own. Already, criminal prosecutions have been delayed because local offices lack the staff to continue representing clients or can’t afford experts and other costs, Chief Judge William Traxler, chairman of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, said in a statement.

Besides seeking to replace the lost $51 million for defender services, the judiciary will ask for additional money for probation and pre-trial services, security and court staffing, according to Traxler’s statement.

Overall, the courts are losing almost $350 million, or about 5 percent, of this year’s funding to the sequester. While the judiciary is committed to doing its part for deficit reduction, Traxler said, the impact “is particularly harsh because the courts have no control over their workload. They must respond to all cases that are filed, whether they are by individuals, businesses or the government.”

On Wednesday, the executive committee approved a spending plan for the defender services program that will require employee furloughs of up to 15 days, Traxler said, and defer payments to private attorneys for the last 15 business days of the fiscal year in September. But that plan also means that millions of dollars in expenses will be shifted to fiscal 2014, even though those costs weren’t part of the courts’ budget request. “This level of funding is unsustainable without relief from Congress,” Traxler said.

The House Appropriations Committee has received no supplemental funding requests from other agencies, spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said via email,

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