Federal judges worry about sequestration's impact on courts

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The federal courts have taken a $350 million hit in the fiscal 2013 budget, due to sequestration. Now, 87 federal judges have sent a letter to the President of the Senate, asking that Congress impose no more budget cuts on the federal courts.

Read the original letter dated August 13, 2013: http://1.usa.gov/16hXk3w

Among those signing the letter is the Chief Judge for the Southern District, the Honorable Louis Guirola Jr. He has been on the bench for 20 years and tells WLOX News this is the worst he has seen in that time, in terms of the effect sequestration is having on the judiciary's ability to do its job.

His chief concern, and that of the other judges, is what this is doing to the funding for defender services, which the courts are legally obligated to provide.

The letter points out a number of other concerns, including courthouse security. In that letter, the judges write that they have been forced to cut their operations to the bone. They worry the quality of the justice system will  be profoundly compromised by any further cuts.

Judge Guirola told us that the Mississippi congressional delegation is sympathetic to the situation. He is "cautiously optimistic" the letter will get the attention of Congress.

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