Judicial Conference Eyes New Cost-Cutting Steps

New measures to trim costs, including cutting how much courthouse space is used and advocating for changes to let judges issue sentences less than mandatory minimums, were announced this week by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

With the end of the federal fiscal year approaching, Chief Judge William Traxler, chairman of the conference’s executive committee, said the judiciary is preparing for “the worst-case scenario,” according to the Blog of Legal Times.

Automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration began March 1, and it is uncertain whether they will continue in effect given seeming polarization in Congress over adopting a new budget. Sequestration resulted in a $350 million court for the judiciary in the current fiscal year.

According to a Judicial Conference press release, the Conference “agreed to seek legislation, such as the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 (S. 619), which is designed to restore judges’ sentencing discretion and avoid the costs associated with mandatory minimum sentences.”

In addition, the Conference agreed to seek legislation to allow for early termination of supervised release for defendants who no longer present a risk.

Judge John D. Bates, secretary for the Conference, recently wrote President Obama to ask him to make a case for much-needed funding for the judiciary in the upcoming fiscal year, according to Legal Newsline.

Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee was to hold a hearing on the topic, “Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences.”



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