Massachusetts Courts Facing Budget Crisis
Massachusetts courts are facing devastating budget cuts, with Boston courts trying to do more with less, notes Suffolk County Clerk-Magistrate Michael Donovan. The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) assembled a task force to examine the day-to-day effects of recent court budget cuts. The Boston personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Neil Burns are mindful of the important role courts play in adjudicating car accident and personal injury cases.
As Clerk-Magistrate Donovan noted, Boston area courts see their case load continue to go up, with “the only thing that’s declined is the resources we need to serve the public.” The statics as reported by the Massachusetts Bar Association are grim. Overall, the Massachusetts trial courts have lost 9.7 percent of its staff between July 1, 2007 and May 10, 2010, due to a hard hiring freeze. This equates to a whopping 740 staff position that are currently vacant and remained unfilled due to budget constraints.
And the fiscal budget going forward may get worse before it gets better. The fiscal year budget for 2011, beginning July 1, 2010, cuts Massachusetts’ courts budget by 30.1 million dollars compared to the fiscal year 2010 budget, and this figure is $76 million less than the courts funding for fiscal year 2009. Top court personnel, sitting in Boston, have expressed “grave concern” at being able to “deliver justice” at the current funding level.
It’s been estimated that if funding is not increased, the 2011 budget will lead to drastic cuts, including the closing of twelve to fifteen courthouses, layoffs of up to 500 employees, and system-wide furloughs.