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Legal community urges fiscal cliff resolution

With the federal government facing the fiscal cliff, many in the legal community and advocates for the indigent are warning of the severe impact of sequestration on the federal courts and programs providing legal services to those in need.

The public’s access to justice, recognized as a fundamental democratic principle, must remain available, according to Seymour W. James Jr., president of the New York State Bar Association, who was joined by several bar association leaders.

Connie O. Walker, president of the Monroe County Bar Association, was among those who signed a letter sent to New York’s congressional delegation about the impacts of sequestration.

Under across-the-board cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 2, the court system’s budget would be slashed by 8.2 percent, or more than $500 million. Legal Services Corporation, which provides funding for civil legal assistance for the indigent, would see its budget drop $29 million beyond the significant cuts it has already suffered in recent years.