The chief judge of the federal court in Detroit says budget cuts are slowing down the processing of some cases, and put public safety at risk.
Judge Gerald Rosen co-authored a letter signed by 87 judges that was sent to Congressional leaders and Vice President Joe Biden. It says a second year under the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration would devastate the courts.
The letter says staffing losses are resulting in slower processing of civil and bankruptcy cases. And it says the cuts also jeopardize public safety, since they affect probation and pre-trial services.
"These cuts are greatly compromising our ability to provide the kind of intensive supervision that some of these offenders need,” said Judge Rosen. “And I'm greatly concerned that that will result in a real threat and a risk for public safety."
Rosen says the biggest cuts have been to legal representation to poor criminal defendants, a move he calls “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” since he says those cases will ultimately wind up in the hands of private attorneys, who charge more.
Rosen says his court alone has cut 63 positions, "but if we have to suffer the kinds of cuts that are being projected for us in fiscal (year) 2014, there's no way that we're going to be able to continue to provide those kinds of services."
The sequestration cuts are expected to be a major focus when Congress returns in September.