Delayed Justice is Denied Justice | Take Justice Back

Delayed Justice is Denied Justice

Why Court Funding is Essential to Our Democracy

On this site we talk about how justice has been denied for Americans across the country.  We often focus on something called “tort reform” – or efforts led by corporate front groups to close the courthouse doors on plaintiffs (i.e. consumers, employees, and small businesses).  But Americans’ legal rights are also threatened because courts are struggling with not having enough money to operate.  In fact, today our justice system is in severe jeopardy.

An LA Times op-ed by Judge Michael L. Stern of the Los Angeles Supreme Court highlights the problems civil courts in LA are facing:

Steep budget cuts forced the Superior Court to undergo two prior rounds of courtroom closures and employee layoffs. The latest cuts, to take effect over the next six months, include the closure of all courtrooms in 10 regional courthouses, including those in Beverly Hills, Pomona and San Pedro.

There is no immediate prospect for more funding in sight. The court is left with no alternative to a painful reorganization of judicial resources that undoubtedly will lengthen the time for concluding civil cases.

The curtailment of court functions could severely test the public's confidence in our state courts. Certainly, the decrease in court services challenges a basic tenet of our judicial system — that everyone is entitled to his or her day in court. It also underscores the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied.

This is not just limited to California.  Across the United States, court underfunding is causing a crisis.  Courthouses have been forced to close their doors in order to meet budgetary shortfalls and Americans’ basic access to justice has been delayed and limited.  Unless action is taken, an essential branch of government that protects our rights and freedoms stands in danger of being undermined.

As Judge Stern concludes:

If there were ever a time to pay attention to the quality of justice that we have come to expect and deserve from our judicial system, it is now. The public should not be content with the dislocation and delays in resolving civil disputes caused by court funding shortages. Equal access to justice under the law demands more. It requires action by everyone to make the elected officials responsible for funding our courts aware that the words "equal justice under the law" cannot become just another hollow slogan.