Supreme Weekly: Budget cuts and a quick switch
by Katy Farrell
Now that we're into the new year, six Chief Justices have already delivered their 2011 State of the Judiciary addresses. In three of those states, the budget of the judicial branch was a major component of the speech.
IN SOUTH DAKOTA LAST WEEK, JUSTICE David Gilbertson maintained his goal to reduce the state judiciary budget by only 5%, as opposed to the 10% cuts promised in all other state departments. While mentioning that negative economic circumstances tend to increase vices that lead to demands on the court, he also made sure to highlight the positive impact court programs have had on last year's budget. According to him, the special drug courts in South Dakota save that state countless dollars by preventing repeat offenses and favoring treatment instead of incarceration. 
IN IOWA, JUSTICE Mark Cady sounded a dire warning, stating, "I too fear that the deep cuts in our resources are beginning to cause damage to our system of justice. So, let me briefly explain...what I observe to be a decline in the access of justice in Iowa." 
JUSTICE Barbara Madsen USED HER STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS to remind the Washington State Legislature that their state ranks last in the nation for its percentage of state funding for the courts, prosecution and criminal indigent defense. She summed it up by saying, "I can report that the state of Washington’s judiciary remains strong—but stretched thin." 
THOUGH NOT IN A STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS, Justice Linda Dalianis in New Hampshire unveiled the first proposal of the Judicial Branch Innovation Commission. This body recommends combining the preexisting Probate Court, District Court and Family Division into one Circuit Court. The New Hampshire State Legislature needs to approve these changes, which could save the state up to $37 million in ten years. 
The other states to present 2011 State of the Judiciary addresses so far are Colorado, Indiana and North Dakota. The full text of all these speeches is posted on the page Judgepedia's Supreme Weekly: The States.
In a surprising and quick change of personnel, last Friday Champ Lyons resigned from the Alabama Supreme Court effective immediately. When he reported his retirement to lame duck Governor Bob Riley, Lyons strongly recommended James Allen Main as his successor. Riley agreed to the suggestion and immediately appointed Main to the Supreme Court. The appointment did not alter the ideological makeup of the court, which still has eight Republicans and one Democrat. 
To read more, check out: Lyons resigns from Alabama Supreme Court, Main joins
|This article was written by Katy Farrell, the Editor of Judgepedia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|