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NY bar leaders call for averting budget sequester crisis

Federal courts again face the prospect of “devastating” budget cuts affecting individual and business litigants if Congress allows re-implementation of “the sequester” across-the-board cuts to the 2016 federal budget, warn the presidents of 17 bar associations in New York.
The federal government’s 2016 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

In a Sept. 2 letter to members of the New York Congressional Delegation, the bar leaders note that the Budget Control Act of 2011 will impose severe automatic cuts on the courts and other federal operations unless Congress enacts a budget within spending caps. Such a sequester was imposed for nine months during 2013.

The letter calls upon Congress to ensure the federal court system remains properly funded and to enact a budget that avoids the sequester.

“The functioning of our courts was seriously undermined by the sequester in 2013 and they have still not fully recovered,” the letter says. “We cannot afford a repetition of the 2013 underfunding which resulted in extensive case delays, reduced security and inadequate personnel to carry out necessary day-to-day operations.”

It notes the 2013 disruption was devastating to federal courts in New York with all four districts categorized as congested with above average caseloads.

“Therefore the cuts disproportionately impact New York,” the letter says. “New York’s individuals and businesses would suffer dramatically from re-implementation of the sequester. Inadequate court funding also tarnishes New York’s status as the gold standard for businesses engaged in international transactions by diminishing the efficiency and predictability of our judiciary.”

The letter, drafted by New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda, was signed by him and the presidents of local and specialty bar associations across the state including Neil J. Rowe, Monroe County Bar Association; Kevin W. Spitler, Bar Association of Erie County; Jean Marie Westlake, Onondaga County Bar Association; and Joseph P. Giruzzi, Oneida County Bar. The letter is available at www.nysba.org/LettertoCongressSept2015.