Chief Justice: “Lurching” from budget to budget is not a plan
January 20th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – In an unusually strong speech to the State Legislature, the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court asked that the budget for the courts be kept intact. In his annual, State of Judiciary address, Chief Justice Michael Heavican cautioned that judges, clerks and probation officers face considerable increases in their case loads even if funding is cut.
â€œThe courts are not just another agency line-item in the Stateâ€™s budget,â€ he said. â€œIssues that I have mentioned in this address, for example the continuing increase of self-represented parties in the courts, the continued use of interpreters in the courts, and most immediately the potential for huge increases in truancy cases in Douglas County, and elsewhere beg the question of adequate funding for the court system.â€
Heavican reminded lawmakers that most of the costs to operate the courts are salaries for employees who donâ€™t control the number of cases and trials appearing in courtrooms.
â€œLurching from budget year to budget year, sustaining the court system by furloughing employees, is not a plan,â€ he said. â€œIt is an admission of a failure to plan.â€
Heavican emphasized that â€œcourts perform the constitutionally mandated role of providing access to justice for all Nebraska citizens.â€
The legislatureâ€™s Judiciary Committee earlier recommended cuts that including delaying hiring replacement judges and shifting the cost of County Courts back to county governments. Higher fees from some court services are also being proposed.
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