Judicial cliff
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With all the attention devoted to the "fiscal cliff' and the impact of the deep cuts to defense spending that are scheduled to kick in on Jan. 1, there's a lesser-recognized, but essential, governmental function that will also be critically harmed — our federal courts and the administration of justice.

Unless Congress acts, the automatic budget cuts will require the layoff of one-quarter of all federal court personnel, including those in the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The hearing and resolution of thousands of cases, civil and criminal, will be delayed. Hours of operation in the clerk's office will be sharply reduced. Federal judges will likely suspend jury trials due to reductions in available jury fees.

Courthouse security could be compromised. The supervision of thousands of persons under pretrial release, along with felons recently released from federal prisons, would likely be lessened, potentially threatening community safety.

These automatic budget cuts will harm justice, our economy and the safety of our community. Congress must overcome its partisan differences and agree on appropriate solutions before the end of the year.

Jonathan G. Pappasideris Utah Chapter, Federal Bar Assn.

Salt Lake City