State judicial funding

The governor proposes to cut 10 percent of the state judicial budget; citizens should be concerned.

In an attempt to deal with the $5 million state budget deficit, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proposed up to a 10 percent budget cut for MinnesotaâÄôs justice system. If the proposal were made into law, the state judicial system would have a loss of up to 400 jobs. It is understood that we are in a recession and that state programs will undergo tough times; however, the state justice system cannot afford to endure a loss of funding. This proposed decrease in funding will greatly undercut the already strained public defenderâÄôs office and should be particularly concerning to college students. Whether it is to dispute a speeding ticket or to take exception when issued a âÄúminor in consumptionâÄù violation, students are habitual users of the state judicial system. Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson has openly opposed the budget cut. Magnuson expresses concern over the proposed loss in funding: âÄúMinnesotaâÄôs justice system is stretched to the breaking point. âĦ Nothing less than the rule of law is at stake.âÄù Legal staff and local judges are unable to keep up with their caseloads, creating backlog in the system. In addition, there is a growing inability to enforce the civil and criminal sanctions imposed by judges, making communities less safe. The budget cut will translate into a lack of adequate legal representation, delayed trials, further job loss and judicial program cuts. Our judicial system relies on funding. Without the necessary resources to maintain that system, state residents are at a disadvantage. These state services are already overburdened and understaffed.