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Deep Cuts to the State Court System

The department that operates Tennessee’s State Court System, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, is meeting with representatives of State Finance and Administration to discuss budgetary concerns.

According to the department’s spokesperson, Laura Click, Tennessee’s court system has seen a combined 21 percent cut in its operational budget over the last two fiscal years.

As a result, Click says the Administrative Office has been forced to eliminate a number of staff positions, squeeze remaining employees into smaller offices, and even close the Supreme Court libraries.

Judges salaries are protected by law, and so aren’t subject to the cuts.

Allen Ramsaur, Executive Director of the Tennessee Bar Association, says his member lawyers are starting to see the impact of previous cuts.  He cites recent instances where dates on the court calendar were determined by the availability of a court reporter.

Ramsaur also notes that the court systems of other states are in far worse shape. He says some states have reduced days of operation and furloughed staff.

Click says Tennesseans may begin to see similar cuts if the court system’s budget is reduced any further. She notes that Tennessee Courts make up just one-half of one-percent of the overall state budget.