Underfunding of State Courts Theme of University of Kentucky Symposium
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 19, 2011 — Chief justices, legal scholars, practitioners, bar leaders and members of the business community will join together for a national dialogue on the practical and constitutional impact of court underfunding at the University of Kentucky College of Law on Sept. 23–24. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., and American Bar Association President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III are among notable Kentuckians who will discuss the impact of the funding crisis on access to justice.
“There is nothing more precious than our freedom and that comes from access to justice,” said ABA president Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III. “By bringing many of the stakeholders in access to justice together—judges, practitioners, bar leaders, academics and government leaders—this symposium affords us a unique opportunity to analyze and confront the crisis head on,” he continued. “We must do everything in our power to adequately fund our courts and counter this fundamental threat to our constitutional democracy,” he added.
Court Underfunding Crisis:
- 95 percent of all cases in this country are filed in state courts.
- Last year, 40 states slashed state court funding.
- In New York, a $178 million cut in the state court system almost immediately led to 500 people being laid off.
- New Hampshire suspended all civil cases for a year to deal with overwhelming backlogs exacerbated by inadequate funding.
- At least six states close their courts one day a week because of inadequate funding.
- In 2011, funding was restored after 2010 budget cuts; however, the judiciary is still operating with $35 million less than it needs to fund legal services.
- To cope with budget cuts, Kentucky has frozen salaries, imposed staff layoffs and delayed filling judicial vacancies.
- The state has also delayed filling vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions, while also reducing other operating expenses.
- ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III
- State Supreme Court Justices John Minton (chief justice, Ky.), Maureen O’Connor (chief justice, Ohio), Jean Toal (chief justice, S.C.), Christine Durham (chief justice, Utah), Paul De Muniz (chief justice, Ore.), Margaret H. Marshall (chief justice, ret., Mass.), Peggy Quince (chief justice, ret., Fla.), Jack Jacobs (associate justice, Del.) and Mark Martin (senior associate justice, N.C.)
- The Kentucky Law Journal, along with the American Bar Association and the National Center for State Courts, is hosting the symposium in honor of the Kentucky Law Journal’s 100th anniversary and the university’s distinguished alumnus, ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.
- “Courts, Business and the Economy” — will explore topics such as the role of courts in maintaining a viable economy, the reality of closing courts, dispute resolution and small business litigation.
Sept. 23, 12:45 – 2:30 p.m., Singletary Center
- “Court Funding: Autonomy, Access, and Accountability” — will discuss constitutional issues involving state court funding, judicial independence and the inherent powers of the court.
Sept. 23, 2:30 – 4 p.m., Singletary Center
- Remarks by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sept. 23, 4:15 – 4:45 p.m., Singletary Center
- Gala Dinner Honoring ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III and Celebrating the Kentucky Law Journal’s 100th Anniversary — Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III will give the keynote address on state court underfunding.
Sept. 23, 7 – 9 p.m., Lexington Convention Center
- “18th Century Courts – 21st Century Expectations” — will discuss technology and efficiency, the changing role of courts, the impact of social media on the courts and solutions some courts have used to combat budget cuts.
Sept. 24, 9:30 – 11 a.m., Memorial Hall
- “Putting It All Together: What Can We Do Now?” — includes remarks by Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall (ret., Mass.).
Sept. 24, 11:15 a.m. – noon, Memorial Hall
- Sept. 23 – 24
- University of Kentucky — College of Law
620 S. Limestone
Lexington, Ky. 40506
For a full agenda, please click here. For more information, media credentialing or video of the symposium, please contact Alexandra Buller at Alexandra.Buller@Americanbar.org or 202/662-1508. There is no charge for media to attend this event.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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