by Max Brantley
I received this morning a copy of the letter sent by federal judges to congressional leadership about the impact of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
The chief judges of 87 federal district courts — including Judges Brian Miller of the Eastern District and Paul K. Holmes of the Western District of Arkansas — detailed the impact of both sequestration and flat funding of the last several years. The letter was copied to all judges and various other court offices with a suggestion from John Bates, director of the administrative office of the courts, that they use it in meetings with members of Congress during the August recess.
The letter, to Speaker John Boehner and others, said operations have already been slashed "to the bone" and consitutional duties "will be profoundly compromised by any further cuts."
Staff cuts mean, among other things, delays in processing civil and bankruptcy cases and a reduction in staff of clerk, probation and pretrial services offices, plus courtroom security services.
With the number of convicted offenders under supervision at a record level, the letter notes that staff in probation and pretrial services offices is down by 600 since 2011. This means cuts to "crisis levels" in such things as monitoring defendants through meetings, drug testing, treatment and GPS tracking.
Perhaps if there's been a court employee in Israel recently, he or she might have had a moment with Tom Cotton, a Harvard-educated lawyer. He hasn't been friendly to federal spending in some other areas. Perhaps he'd be friendlier here.
Here's the full letter.