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More Court Cuts

March 21st, 2008 by flanews

Florida’s court system may lose ten percent of its budget next year. Florida’s judges say the cut would mean nearly a thousand court employees would lose their jobs. As Whitney Ray tells us court employees say fewer people would be prosecuted, and programs would shut down.

Hear it here: More Court Cuts

The court system isn’t the only state program dealing with budget cuts. Lawmakers have to find more than three billion dollars from next years budget.

The Leon County Courthouse was deserted on Good Friday. Judges say quiet hallways and empty parking lots may become the norm if their budget is cut, again. Lawyer Jim Banks said another round of budget cuts will severely wound Florida’s Court system.

“You cut salaries, you cut people. You cut people, you cut services. The court system is known to be slow, at least in the publics mind, this is going to slow things even more, there will just be things that never get to court,” said Banks.

An appropriations committee wants Florida’s courts to operate on 42 million less dollars next year. One lawmaker wants defense attorneys to make sure their clients can’t pay for a private lawyer before they offer representation on the state’s dime. One suggestion to help save money is for state attorneys to be more selective about whom they prosecute. If lawmakers approve the cuts the court’s mediation system could go. Without mediators, judges would have to pickup extra duties.

“Most of the cases that have to go to a judge have to go through a mediator to get there. So if all these cases go through a mediator and you cut out mediation services, its going to increase the work load for the judges dramatically. And they can barely keep up with the work load now,” said Banks.

The latest budget battle between the courts and lawmakers ended in a compromise. Lawmakers are listening to judges, but say they don’t plan to bend this round.

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