Potential Budget Cuts Threaten the Federal Judiciary

Chief Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia warns that the federal judiciary will be at risk if Congress cannot reach a budget deal to prevent the implementation of $600 billion in automatic spending cuts.

While civil trials before judges without juries would likely be unaffected, Chief Judge Sentelle states federal civil jury trials would possibly be suspended due to lack of funding to pay jurors. Sentelle also suggests budget cuts would affect the probation system and payment for public defenders.

To prepare for the potential budget cutbacks, Sentelle announces that the judiciary is developing contingency plans to close court facilities over the next few years. The contingency plans may also include closing some entrances to courthouses.