Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director, Media Services and Public Affairs Mmahoney@nysba.org
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION APPEALS
TO CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION FOR ACTION ON SEQUESTRATION
15 Local Bar Leaders Sign Letter with State
Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr.
The New York State Bar Association and 15 local bar associations are
urging the state’s congressional delegation to protect the
public’s access to justice as the federal government faces the
threat of sequestration.
In a joint letter, State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The
Legal Aid Society in New York City) and the 15 local bar presidents
noted their concern that automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect
January 2 would be devastating to New Yorkers who rely on the federal
courts to resolve disputes and to low-income New Yorkers who need civil
“New York’s federal courts and those using the
courts—both businesses and individuals—would be subject to
delays, inconvenience, scheduling difficulties and, in some cases, the
inability to obtain basic justice,” wrote James and other bar
leaders. “Access to justice is fundamental to our society,
and we are eager to work with you to protect one of our country’s
The letter, dated November 20, was sent to the state’s two U.S.
senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and its 29 members
of the House of Representatives. It was signed by the presidents of the
New York City Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers
as well as bar presidents from Albany, Bronx, Broome, Erie, Kings,
Monroe, Nassau, Oneida, Onondaga, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and
The letter specifically highlights the impact of sequestration on the
federal Judiciary and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).
Sequestration would slash 8.2 percent from the 2013 federal Judiciary
budget, a reduction of more than $500 million from 2012. “Quite
simply, a reduction of this magnitude would cripple the operation of the
federal Judiciary and our constitutional mission would be compromised
due to these sudden, arbitrary budget cuts,” according to the Hon.
Julia Gibbons, chair of the Committee on the Budget of the Judicial
Conference of the United States.
“Disruption to New York’s federal courts is likely to
involve delays in issuing opinions, delays in issuing checks for
jurors’ service and for restitution to successful litigants, the
possible complete closure of some courts for periods of time, and
restrictions in the use of PACER (the Public Access to Court Electronic
Records),” wrote James and the other bar leaders. “In
addition, the disruption of probation services would result in those
released to probation being unsupervised for periods of time.”
The Legal Services Corporation is the largest single source of
funding for the nation’s providers of civil legal assistance for
the poor. It is slated to lose $29 million from its current budget of
$348 million, significantly below its peak funding of $420 million in
2010. Cuts to the LSC would have a ripple effect on legal services
providers and their low-income clients.
The clients “are among the most vulnerable people in our
society, including veterans returning from combat, domestic violence
victims, those coping with the after-effects of natural disasters,
families involved in child custody disputes, people with disabilities,
and individuals undergoing foreclosures or other housing issues,”
the letter noted.