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COST-SAVING STAFF FURLOUGHS COULD HAVE ‘CATASTROPHIC’ IMPACT ON COURTS

From the Sun-Sentinel: The business of justice in courthouses across Florida could be dramatically altered in coming weeks, with Broward Chief Judge Victor Tobin warning of a “catastrophic” impact. Under a proposal that would meet a demand from the Legislature to cut nearly $17 million from the state courts budget by June 30, courthouse administration employees would have to take 22 unpaid days off in circuit courts and 58 days in county courts. Not only would employees’ livelihoods be affected as they go without paychecks, but business at courthouses would be unequivocally compromised, judges and court administrators say. Employees forced into furloughs would include judicial assistants, court interpreters and case managers. Just as other agencies have faced cutbacks because of anticipated tax-revenue shortfalls, the state courts system also was ordered to find a way to function with less money. However, judges and court administrators, who were told last year to hold back 4 percent of their budget, found the task impossible because nearly 90 percent of the state court system’s $483 million budget goes to wages, said Kathleen Kroll, chief judge for Palm Beach County.

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