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Nation's Courts Taking Different Approaches to Addressing Fiscal Crisis


The Judicial Council Watcher yesterday issued a summary outlining how courts across the United States are dealing with the fiscal crisis. The article, which includes information from newspaper reports and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), states courts in 44 states have experienced budget cuts.

Courts across the nation are making dramatic cuts. While California has been impacted, other states' courts have less flexibility in finding sources of funding, according to the report. This has led to courts instituting furloughs, reducing hours, freezing or reducing salaries, raising fines and fees, as well as implementing layoffs. A summary of the courts affected and the actions they've taken can be found in the table below. (If a state is not listed, that is because its courts are currently not in fiscal crisis.)

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States Dealing with Budget Crisis 2 resized 600

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Note: The California Judicial Branch's fiscal crisis and the actions being taken by specific courts is being covered separately on this blog. The cuts being implemented in California were not included in the Judicial Council Watcher article.

Minnesota May Do Away with "Incumbent" Label for Judges Seeking Reelection


Remember when being labelled the incumbent in an election was an advantage for candidates? It was a show of strength and experience that often tipped the scales toward a candidate in a race in which neither candidate had much name recognition. It made one candidate the "safe choice." No more.

Voters in recent elections have demonstrated a new piece of conventional wisdom: Angry voters don't like incumbents. Candidates ranging from U.S. Congressmen to your local city council members have learned that frustrated voters will often pick the candidate who is "the least to blame" for what concerns them and that candidate is not the one labelled "incumbent."

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(Minnesota Capitol Dome Photo by Mulad)

In Minnesota, the state senate has found a unique way to deal with this issue with regard to the election of judges, according to Gavel to Gavel. Minnesota's SB 627 would repeal a previous state law requiring the word "incumbent" be placed next to the names of judges seeking reelection.

If passed, the proposed legislation would also raise the mandatory retirement age for judges in the state to the last day of the "official year of the state in the first even-numbered year during which a judge has attained 70 years of age."


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