The New York State Bar Association, 15 local bar groups, business leaders and legal services providers are urging members of the state’s congressional delegation to cooperate in resolving the so-called “fiscal cliff” impasse or risk cuts that would create “enormous disruption” to the federal courts throughout the state beginning Jan. 2. State bar president Seymour James said that because federal courts in all four districts of New York are classified as “congested,” meaning their average caseloads exceed those for the entire federal system, the cuts “would fall disproportionately on New York.”
“Disruption to New York’s federal courts is likely to involve delays in issuing opinions, delays in issuing checks for jurors’ service and for restitution to successful litigants, the possible complete closure of some courts for periods of time, and restrictions in the use of PACER,” James, attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society of New York City, wrote to House members. “In addition, the disruption of probation services would result in those released to probation being unsupervised for periods of time.”
The heads of the bar associations from New York City’s five boroughs and Carey Dunne, president of the New York City Bar, signed onto the letter. Dunne said in a statement yesterday that the potential budget cuts to the federal courts of 8.2 percent would “make life even more difficult” for those who cannot receive legal assistance due to the poor economy in New York and, more recently, the losses due to Hurricane Sandy. “The result will be more harm to families and children and more, not less, reliance on the government-funded safety net,” said Dunne, of Davis Polk & Wardwell.