This column previously discussed how Judges and court personnel are the heroes of the pandemic Those who worked tirelessly under unprecedented conditions to administer justice during an unpredictable time. Because of the judiciary’s role vis-à-vis the public, many judges and court personnel are primary workers who were at risk of exposure to COVID-19, and many have died from the virus. The ongoing pandemic has made it difficult to conduct many court operations, as jury trials, files, and other parts of the judicial process have been suspended at various times over the past year. This has resulted in a backlog of cases, and criminal litigants and defendants face difficulty obtaining judicial decisions in many circumstances.
To make matters worse, many countries have slashed judicial budgets in order to deal with the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I have read many articles on how to do this New York and other states cut judicial budgets In order to deal with the financial hardship caused by the virus, which has forced many judges to retire early and has left the judges on the bench with fewer resources. Of course, we can all understand how governments need to cut budgets to deal with this extraordinary time, and I easily admit that I am not aware of the politics and the political reasons behind the moves to reduce the resources allocated to the judiciary. However, having a strong and independent judiciary is crucial to our system of government, and the judiciary will likely need more, not less, resources during this difficult time.
The main reason why judges need more resources is that forced retirement of judges and lack of resources for the judicial system will lead to delays in litigation (and may cause interruptions on the criminal side, however) I am not familiar with criminal law matters So I’ll focus on the effects on litigation.) Before the pandemic, it often took many years for litigation to run its course. In fact, I once argued over proposing expedited judgment for a case that started when I was a high school student, and the case was still pending when I left the company to pursue other business. Judicial bodies have applied innovative alternative dispute resolution techniques to try to resolve as many cases as possible in a judicious manner, but the crowded pockets of many judicial bodies meant that before the pandemic, lawsuits were taking time to resolve.
The epidemic has exacerbated this situation. Many jurisdictions have not been able to conduct jury trials during the pandemic, so there are a number of backlog cases that have to be tried by juries (and in some cases, there are backlog cases that are resolved by trial of replacements) in many jurisdictions. In addition, I have heard anecdotes (and would like someone to confirm) that resources are being used in criminal matters that were previously devoted to civil matters in order to ensure that criminal defendants have speedy trials. However, this appears to make resolving civilian matters more difficult than normal operations. There is an old expression that says, “Justice delayed is a denial of justice,” and judicial authorities should receive as much funding and other resources as possible to ensure that the backlog of cases resulting from the epidemic can be dealt with in an effective manner.
It is also important to make more resources available to the judicial authorities during this difficult time so that judges and court personnel do not need to work harder now or be responsible for more tasks than they usually do. In my private practice, I have seen judges and judicial personnel work tirelessly and in exceptional circumstances in order to preserve the administration of justice during this unprecedented period. In fact, I’ve seen judges and court personnel send out emails at all times of the day and night, conduct conferences from their living rooms, create seemingly ad-hoc systems overnight, and implement other strategies to deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19.
It is unfair to add more challenges to the judiciary by cutting judicial budgets. Judges and court personnel have done an amazing job during the pandemic, and they should not be “rewarded” with fewer resources. Judicial authorities should be given more resources so that they can restore operations to normal and not overburden individuals with the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Bar and attorneys unions can play a role in helping reduce the impact of budget cuts. Ensuring that judicial bodies have the resources necessary to administer justice is a nonpartisan issue that affects lawyers and to a large extent everyone else in our society. Judges and court personnel are often restricted in the statements they can make because judicial ethics often require that individuals in the judiciary do everything they can to maintain their independence and avoid appearing inappropriately. However, legal professionals can and should intervene to convey the challenges the judiciary faces and how cuts to judicial budgets can have a negative impact on the administration of justice.
Finally, although judges and court personnel have acted commendably to achieve justice throughout the pandemic, many judicial bodies are facing budget cuts. Such cuts in judicial resources can have a devastating effect on the operations of many courts. Legal professionals and bar associations can do more to explain how cuts to the judicial budget can be devastating and to support the judiciary during this unprecedented time.
Jordan Rothman is a partner Rothman Law Firm, A full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also a founder Student Debt Diary, Which is a website that discusses how to pay off his student loans. You can reach Jordan via email at email@example.com.