LOOMING BUDGET CUTS THREATEN ACCESS TO
JUSTICE IN U.S. COURTS, WARNS NEW YORK STATE BAR PRESIDENT
DALLAS, Texas --Automatic federal budget cuts—unless averted by
Congress before March 1—will undermine the nation's justice
system, limiting access to the courts by individuals and businesses, New
York State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. said
Earlier today, the American Bar Association (ABA) unanimously
approved a resolution—presented by James—urging Congress and
President Barack Obama to adequately fund the nation's court system and
legal assistance programs for the poor. The ABA House of Delegates is
meeting in Dallas, Texas
"As attorneys, it is our professional obligation to raise our voices
about the devastating impact proposed cuts will have on federal courts
and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC)," said James (The Legal Aid
Society in New York City).
The budgets of the Judiciary and the LSC are threatened by funding
cuts that will take effect automatically on March 1 unless Congress acts
to prevent sequestration.
"If Congress fails to avert sequestration, the operations of federal
courts will be significantly curtailed. Courthouses would be open fewer
hours, resulting in prolonged delays in civil trials," James said.
He explained that since criminal cases will receive priority,
"sequestration would disproportionally affect civil cases, delaying
resolution of business disputes as well as personal bankruptcy and civil
The Legal Services Corporation, created by a 1974 federal law, makes
grants to local organizations providing civil legal services to the
"Cuts to the LSC budget would hurt vulnerable low-income
individuals—including veterans, the elderly and disabled. They
would be deprived of legal assistance as they face eviction,
foreclosure, family disruption, domestic violence, health and
immigration problems," James said.
Even in the absence of sequestration, there could be additional
budget cuts on the horizon. As congressional negotiators finalize the
overall budget, the Judiciary and LSC will compete for funding with
defense spending and other domestic programs, James noted.
The budget resolution approved at the ABA's Midyear Meeting
RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges federal elected
officials, as they consider deficit reduction for fiscal year 2013 and
beyond, to maintain the ability of individuals, as well as business and
other organizations, to have access to justice by assuring that (1) the
federal courts receive funding adequate to permit them to perform their
constitutional functions effectively and efficiently, and (2) the Legal
Services Corporation receives funding to meet the needs of our
country’s most vulnerable individuals who are eligible for
services provided by the nation’s legal service providers.
The resolution was introduced by the New York State Bar Association
and presented to the House of Delegates by President James. Under his
leadership, the State Bar Association has met with members of New York's
congressional delegation to explain the impact of sequestration or other
significant budget cuts on the federal courts and the LSC.
The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest
voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in
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