Monday, March 11, 2013

Sequestering Justice

This Atlantic Monthly article entitled How the Sequester Threatens the U.S. Legal System details the impact of the sequester on the Judiciary, including Federal Public Defender offices:
If federal court administrators offer the big picture impact of the sequestration, federal public defenders all over the country are sharing the details on an office-by-office basis. These stories are bad in two dimensions. First, there is the grim business of laying off desperately needed federal workers. Second, there is the impact those layoffs will have on ordinary people who for one reason or another are involved in the federal court system. It’s really quite simple: The people being laid off try each day to help the rest of us secure our constitutional rights.

John Sands, the Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona is quoted as writing:
We have clients who need mental health experts to examine them, but whom must wait until the next budget allotment comes. We have investigators who can no longer go to the scenes of crimes, but call instead. We watch pennies so we can order transcripts. The impact of sequestration in criminal justice further makes the playing field uneven, with DOJ able to shift resources, while we can’t. We are seeing offices shuttered, and staff sent home for 30, 40 even possibly 90 days.

The sequester will be on the agenda at the semi-annual meeting of the Judicial Conference of the United States beginning on March 12th.


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