The House budget funds the Trial Courts at $560 million for
2013, $8 million below Gov. Deval Patrick's recommendation.
Additional funding is essential to address critical operating needs
of the court system. The Massachusetts Bar Association will
continue to advocate for an adequately funded justice system
throughout the budget process.
The court system is serving the approximately 42,000 people who
enter courthouses each day with over 1,300 fewer court personnel
since July of 2007. Court backlogs are increasing; many clerks and
registers have had to reduce public hours of operation, except for
emergencies; and there is an insufficient number of court officers,
which increases security risks and causes disruptions and
The House also approved an additional $1 million for the
Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, bringing its fiscal
2013 funding to $12 million. As lawyers know, these difficult
economic times have placed an extraordinary burden on legal service
providers. An unprecedented number of citizens are in need of
services, but revenue from IOLTA income is down 78 percent over the
past four years.
The Committee for Public Counsel Services was funded at $162.2
million by the House Ways and Means Committee. The governor's
proposal contained $164.5 million in funding and the expansion to a
50 percent public defender to 50 percent assigned private counsel
ratio in CPCS cases. The House proposal did not contain any further
expansion of the public defender-to-assigned private counsel
The Senate Ways and Means Committee will release its budget
proposal in May, when it will be debated by the full Senate. Each
branch will then appoint three members to a joint conference
committee to reconcile the two budgets. The conference committee
will produce one final conference budget to be sent to both
branches for an up-or-down vote without further debate. The
governor may approve the budget in part by making a number of
vetoes to the document. Fiscal 2013 begins on July 1, 2012.