Archive for February, 2010

CAN THE JUDICIARY MANDATE THAT THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH ADEQUATELY FUND THE COURT SYSTEM?

Monday, February 1st, 2010
   

 

Courts over the years have protested cuts in their budgets by the Executive Branch by threatening to mandate a budget and to order the Executive Branch to fund the budget as drawn up by the courts.

 

The judiciary in New York has threatened to do this, but never carried through with their threat.

 

Now, possibly for the first time, a State Supreme Court has issued a formal ruling that assets the right of the Judiciary as an equal branch of government to mandate their own budget.

 

The Mississippi Supreme Court  last week issued such a ruling.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Haley Barbour does not have the constitutional authority to cut the budget of the state’s court system, the nine-member Mississippi Supreme Court has found in a unanimous ruling.

In the order filed Friday, (Jan. 29, 2010) Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller Jr. said the Legislature “has the duty to fund the judicial branch of government” and “the state fiscal officer shall not impose those reductions” made to the judiciary by Barbour earlier this month.

The judiciary, Waller wrote in the three-page ruling, is a “separate, coequal branch of government,” not an agency, and the cuts on the courts would be “inconsistent” with the state constitution.

Barbour has made three rounds of budget cuts this fiscal year because state tax collections have come in lower than projections. Most agencies, including the judiciary, are slated to be cut 8.2 percent by Barbour.

Waller said the state Constitution requires that the courts be funded. He said the courts already have reduced support staff and office allowances, imposed a hiring freeze and postponed continuing education. Further reductions would prohibit the courts from hearing cases, he said.

He added the appropriation to the courts represent six-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget.

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