Courts face fresh challenges in funding implementation plans

Dec 19, 2020 rwnzwewf

first_img July 15, 2003 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Courts face fresh challenges in funding implementation plans Senior EditorWhile the Florida justice system fared well in the legislature’s Article V revision bill this year, the real test comes when those changes are incorporated into next year’s state budget, according to Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead.And that could be a challenge, considering budget cuts this year have hurt the state court system, particularly in its ability to help children in trouble, Chief Justice Anstead told the Judicial Luncheon held at the Bar’s Annual Meeting.“Florida remains the finest justice system in the United States of America,” Anstead reported to the several hundred lawyers and judges at the luncheon. “But it is a justice system at risk.”There’s no more ominous sign of the risk that the new budget just passed by the legislature, he said. Holding up the June 15 edition of the Bar News, Anstead said the damage was best shown by the headline on the front page on how children’s programs with the court were severely reduced.Particularly hard hit were the pilot dependency courts operating in five circuits, which Anstead said had cut in half the time children had to spend in foster care. Lawmakers, since they didn’t have money to extend the program statewide, excised it from the budget.“When we do have times of stress and economic hard times, why is it always seemingly the ones who are least able to help themselves that are hit the hardest?” Anstead said. Noting some have said there is no silver bullet that will fix social ills, he added, “I don’t believe that for one moment and the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in our society is the way we treat our children, all of our children. This [the funding cut] is a tragedy that hopefully with your help will not be repeated next year.”The Article V revision bill came subsequent to Revision 7, the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1998 mandating that the state take over from counties more of the financing of trial courts. The legislature must accomplish that by July 1, 2004.HB 113A, passed in the first special session, incorporated the recommendations of the trial judges for handling that change, Anstead said. He noted that Gov. Jeb Bush signed the bill on June 25, the day before the Judicial Luncheon.“Although the legislature has now adopted the scheme we recommended. . . the actual dollars will come in the next legislative session, in 2004,” the chief justice said. “That is the critical year we must all address. That is when we will know whether our outstanding trial system will take a hit and move back, or whether they will continue to move forward.”It’s ironic, Anstead said, that in the wake of September 11, President Bush has touted the rule of law as the antidote to terror as well as problems in the Mideast. Yet state courts around the country, where 95 percent of all cases are handled, continue to struggle.“Wouldn’t it be a tragedy of the first magnitude that while our president is going around the world calling for the rule of law. . . that back home in Florida, the fourth most populated state, a state led by his brother, Gov. Bush, that the rule of law would slip and go backwards?” he asked.“In Florida, the quality of justice that is dispensed in those courthouses is of the highest kind. It is by example that we provide President Bush this model,” Anstead added. He called on “everyone in this audience to go to your chief judge and this chief justice and offer to do whatever you can to see that the rule of law remains at the same high standards it is today.” Courts face fresh challenges in funding implementation planslast_img

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