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States Halting Jury Trials to Save Per Diems
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From Page One of today’s Los Angeles Times:

The economic storm has come to this: Justice is being delayed or disrupted in state courtrooms across the country.

Financially strapped New Hampshire has become a poster child for the problem. Among other cost-cutting measures, state courts will halt for a month all civil and criminal jury trials early next year to save $73,000 in jurors’ per diems. Officials warn they may add another four-week suspension…

  
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“All the effort to subpoena witnesses and prepare for those trials is right out the window,” [county prosecutor James M.] Reams said, frustration in his voice. “Internally, it’s a monumental waste of time. We’ll have to redo everything.”

At least 19 other states, including California, have slashed court budgets and other government services as their economies have tanked, said Daniel Hall, vice president of the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit in Williamsburg, Va.

“Courts are there to provide a fair and impartial resolution of disputes,” Hall said. “When you start affecting that, you affect who we are.”

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California cut its judicial branch budget by more than $200 million, or about 10%, in the current fiscal year, and further reductions are almost certain as the state grapples with a projected $40-billion deficit. A Republican proposal unveiled last week, for example, would trim a further $205 million from the judiciary.

Because courts are Constitutionally required to provide speedy trials for criminal defendants, civil litigation and family law cases are taking the brunt of the budget cuts.



Read the article at LAT.



 

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