The effect of budget cuts on courts will lead to a reduction in staff and the closure of the courtrooms will result in an increase in the already pending backlog of cases and slow it down considerably. Civilian courts will be the most affected, but for constitutional and public safety reasons the criminal courts will not be affected as much as the civilian courts. The clearance of cases can be affected by as much as 19% initially and affects the performance of the courts as more cases are registered. This may delay the average time between filing and disposition, and it could take something like four-and-half years to eventually dispose of a case.
Effect of Budget Cuts On Courts
Budget cuts have raised the price for access to justice because the number of hours that courts are open has drastically reduced, mounting backlogs and a reduction to child care in family courts, as described in Fraud vulnerabilities and the global financial crisis.
The worst affected will be the most vulnerable members of society, children, juveniles, single parents, and those in abusive relationships. Some might even lose their lives because they will not be able to obtain the protection that they need from the courts.
It is tragic that those who need the courts the most will the ones who are let down. Justice delayed is justice denied, and slow handling of cases might even slow down the economic recovery thereby slowing down business and costing the country trillions of dollars of losses due to pending cases.
With the delay in processing because of crowded court calendars and understaffed courts, additional burdens are imposed on taxpayers that include additional work for the Clerks of the courts and other administrators as they have to manage additional cases and the files associated with these cases, extra burdens are placed on the judges and their staff to hear cases quickly, at the same time ensuring partial and fair judgments, additional burdens on attorneys as they need to identify the location of files related to their cases, as stated in Economic Slowdown Speeds Up Crime:
Will Law Enforcement Jobs Keep Pace?
In some courthouses, jurors are asked to serve for free, and jurors will also have to pay for their own meals. Money for books for judges is also being reduced, and some staff is asking vendors to donate pens and pencils, etc. These are basically small measures, but they strike at the very heart of the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution which entitles a fair trial, especially in criminal cases.
Courts basically protect constitutional rights, and the impact is being felt by others besides the criminal defendants. Businesses that depend on courts have also been affected by the cuts, and court delays have cost thousands of jobs.