All Articles Tagged "judicial system"
(AJC) — Mayor Kasim Reed has vetoed legislation that according to a city audit would be a step toward saving the city millions in unnecessary spending in the Atlanta Municipal Court. The City Council last Monday voted by 9-5 to reduce the court from 10 judge positions to eight after the City Auditor analyzed the courts and reported that it only needed five judges to handle the caseload. The audit, which said the cuts would save at least $2.3 million a year if judges were cut by five positions, was the latest finding the court is overstaffed — a position judges have bitterly contested. According to City Council numbers, which say it costs $870,000 a year for each judgeship, the savings would be much higher.
(AJC) — Fulton County Judge Constance Russell stacked life sentence after life sentence after life sentence on rapist Marvin Martin three months ago, ensuring that the 33-year-old truck driver will never be free. He will have to serve 360 years in prison before he can even be considered for parole. Martin’s is an impossible sentence. But it is indicative of the path some judges are now taking, suggesting a lack of trust that their sentences will mean anything if prison crowding continues or if the state’s finances force early releases. Or if the presently conservative Pardons and Paroles Board shifts to more liberal stance on crime and punishment. They fear a repeat of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Georgia had to open prison doors to avoid a lawsuit. Other states are already facing the same option.
(AJC) — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed may veto a City Council measure preventing him from naming two new judges to the Atlanta Municipal Court. The council voted for cutting the two judge positions after a city performance audit determined that the court is overstaffed for its workload, and that proper staffing could save the city $2.3 million a year. ”Mayor Reed opposes the legislation and disagrees with the City Auditor’s report,” Reed spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs said in an email after the council vote Monday. “He believes the city needs 10 judges to handle the volume of cases that come through municipal court.” Reed is weighing whether to veto the legislation, Jacobs said.
(New York Times) — Extensive budget cutbacks being rolled out in New York State’s courts are expected to add new delays to practically every facet of the judicial process, from the moment a suspect is brought in to be charged until the case is heard in court, and onward into appeals. The hours of special weekend arraignment courts in New York City will be reduced by nearly half, prompting fears that some suspects will have to be released if they are not brought before a judge within 24 hours, as required by law. The cutbacks, which also apply to civil courts, are being felt throughout the state, the result of a comparatively lean $132.5 billion budget that has affected areas including education, health care and prisons. In the courts, $170 million has been pared from the judicial budget of more than $2 billion, affecting a system that is already overburdened with a huge caseload. Even a special program meant to reduce the backlog by hiring retired judges to hear thousands of cases will largely cease to exist.
(AJC) — The state’s judicial watchdog agency is poised to bring charges against several judges, but may not be able to do so because its budget is running dry, Executive Director Jeff Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Judicial Qualifications Commission, the small state agency that investigates judges, has just $1,600 left in its budget for investigations and prosecutions through fiscal year 2011, which ends June 30. In an interview Tuesday, Davis declined to identify the judges the seven-member commission may pursue, citing the JQC’s requirement that cases remain confidential until formal charges are filed. If charges cannot be filed, the cases will be delayed, and a number of suspect judges will remain on the bench, he said.
(Tri State Defender) — Nearly three weeks after the midterm elections, the winner of the hard-fought race to become California attorney general has not been determined. Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, holds a slim lead over Steve Cooley, her Los Angeles County counterpart. While this election may not interest many people outside California, clearly the winner matters to people in legal circles nationwide, especially those concerned about judicial policies and practices that have a harmful affect on communities of color. They support Harris’ efforts to address these issues.
(LA Times) — The Supreme Court sent a wave of corporate and union money flooding into campaign ads this year, but it did so with the promise that the public would know — almost instantly — who was paying for them. ”With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in January. “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.” But Kennedy and the high court majority were wrong. Because of loopholes in tax laws and a weak enforcement policy at the Federal Election Commission, corporations and wealthy donors have been able to spend huge sums on campaign ads, confident the public will not know who they are, election law experts say.
(Washington Post) — D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) on Thursday called on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to fire Attorney General Peter Nickles, arguing that Nickles is serving not as the city’s top lawyer but as “the mayor’s political hatchet man.” In a new and aggressive attack on the Fenty administration’s ethics, Gray said in a statement that Nickles cannot be trusted to be impartial because he has been “protecting the mayor’s cronies” and working as an “enabler of the mayor’s cronyism.”
(WSJ) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg, vowing to keep fighting to shutter 19 failing city schools, suggested Friday that judges should take a more activist role when deciding cases.
The mayor’s remarks—denouncing a unanimous appellate court ruling that prevents his administration from closing the schools—offer a provocative glimpse at Mr. Bloomberg’s perspective on the role of the judiciary and would undoubtedly be a lightning rod if he launched a bid for president.