In the historic chambers of the state's highest court, State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III today emphasized the Judiciary's prominence in the U.S. Constitution as he stressed the vital importance of a fully funded and operational court system.
"Our Founding Fathers ordered the priorities that should be set in order to 'form a more perfect union' in the Preamble," said Doyle of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo). "Listed first-before providing for a common defense, before promoting the general welfare, before ensuring domestic tranquility-first was listed, 'establish justice.'"
Doyle delivered his remarks at Law Day ceremonies at the state Court of Appeals where Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman opened the session attended by members of the Court of Appeals, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other elected officials.
Doyle's speech reflected a central theme of Law Day being echoed in the legal community across the nation: "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom."
Doyle noted the "essential role" the courts play in the lives of Americans, and said that unless the Judiciary has adequate resources, it cannot fulfill that role.
"In matters large and small, the Judiciary is the foundation of our freedom. The courts defend our fundamental rights, protect public safety and facilitate the peaceful resolution of disputes," he said. "When the courts suffer, the pain is felt throughout society."
Doyle cited a comprehensive report released by the State Bar Association in January that examined the impact of 2011 budget cuts on the state court.
Among the report's findings: reduced courthouse hours were limiting citizen access to courts and resulting in delays in resolving cases; the jury selection process potentially was being compromised by the prospect of lengthier trials; delays were resulting in criminal suspects spending more time in jail before trial; staff reductions were affecting the ability of the courts to efficiently and effectively dispense with cases; and less assistance was available to litigants who represent themselves in family court and other civil cases.
The report is available at www.nysba.org/CourtFundingReport.
Doyle said the State Bar Association understands that "government resources are not unlimited," but when setting spending priorities, elected officials must recognize the fundamental role of the Judiciary in establishing the rule of law.
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director, Media Services