Two days ago I posted information on this blog related to the New York Court of Appeals decision (Maron v. Silver, 16 ' Larabee v. Governor, 7 ; Chief Judge v. Governor, 18) addressing judicial compensation in that state within the framework of separation of powers. Today I have learned that the State of Connecticut is also confronted with separation of powers issues related to its judiciary. These issues relate at least in part to the unilateral reduction of Other Judicial Expense line items (where the law libraries are placed) by the Office of Policy and Management (Executive Branch) after the initial budget allocations have presumably been agreed upon.
Of special concern to many readers of this blog is the severe negative impact these judicial line item reductions are having on judicial law libraries in the State of Connecicut, as indicated in testimony of the Connecticut Chief Court Administrator to the Appropriations Committee included in this post and by the many expressions of concern among Connecticut citizens as reported elsewhere.
The Chief Court Administrator of Connecticut, Judge Barbara M. Quinn has argued before the Appropriations Committee on February 9 that the unilateral reduction of Other Judicial Expense line items by the Executive Branch infringes on the Separation of Powers and can be remedied by OPM simply transmitting the Judicial request unchanged to the legislature. Two sections of Judge Quinn's testimony are especially important and are highlighted below in this posting. The section on Law Libraries which highlights the importance of law libraries in Connecticut to both the Judiciary and the public has relevance both in Connecticut and throughout the nation. A second part of Judge Quinn's testimony highlighted below is her statement on "Concurrence in Allotment Reductions and Rescissions," which frames the issue nicely.
Sections of Testimony Highlighted:
"The Governor's proposed budget provides no funding for law libraries. If this provision is enacted, it will be the second year in a row of zero funding. This is a critical gap; law libraries cannot function without updated research materials.
Let me explain something about law libraries that makes them different from your local library where perhaps you could curtail purchasing new books for a while and then start up again. Because the law is constantly evolving, the most up-to-date information must be made available to anyone who has cases pending before the court. Up-to-date legal research tools, in both electronic and printed form, are essential in order for judges to render rulings that are consistent with law and legal precedent because case law is only as good as the last case decided. And that case law is updated daily. This is what makes law libraries distinct from other libraries - just not buying the latest books is not an option"
Concurrence in allotment reductions and rescissions
Undoubtedly, the most critical budget reform that we seek is one that would curb the unilateral and increasingly untenable budget reductions that are imposed upon the Branch after the Legislature has adopted the budget. Virtually all of our budgetary problems over the past 2 years, and in particular this year, are the result of allotment reductions and rescissions about which neither the Branch nor the Legislature were consulted. I would respectfully propose to you that in the future, any post-budget adoption reductions that are made to the Judicial Branch should require the concurrence of the Legislature. The Branch will be submitting legislation for your consideration that would implement these vital budget reforms.
A bill, "An Act Concerning Funding For the Judicial Branch" (No. 5148) which seeks to correct the matter has recently been introduced in the Connecticut legislature.
Below are links to the full text of both the Testimony and pending legislation referred to in this posting.