Letter from State Bar President:
State Bar Supports Judiciary in Upcoming Legislative Session
Albuquerque, N.M. – Simply put, New Mexico courts cannot make additional budget cuts. In these trying times, justice is the one commodity that must remain intact, fully funded and supported by Governor Richardson, the Legislature and the people of New Mexico.
As president of the State Bar of New Mexico, I am writing on behalf of the state’s more than 8,000 lawyer members to urge Governor Richardson, the Legislature and the people of New Mexico to support our courts and judicial branch in these difficult financial times.
As the state faces serious budget shortfalls and contemplates additional cuts and as the Legislature prepares for an October session to make those cuts, the State Bar of New Mexico urges careful deliberation over the judicial budget. The state’s judiciary has made painful cuts already, to the detriment of the very people it seeks to serve—you. Additional cuts will further damage an already strapped system. This is not an acceptable solution for our state. Unfortunately, it seems that whenever there is a budget shortfall, those most at risk, such as children or individuals in need of the justice system, are the first to suffer cuts in the funding of those agencies they rely upon.
Difficult economic times have an adverse impact on our judicial system. When times are tough, we see an increase in virtually every area of the law that demands court attention. Whether it is in the criminal arena or in civil matters ranging from bankruptcy and foreclosures to divorce and family issues to employment and benefits, the need for court services increases in troubled times; it does not decrease.
Unlike in most business settings where one can adjust for difficult times in numerous ways, such as reducing inventory or overhead costs, the court system sees the inverse as its reality. As the economy worsens, courts get busier. Caseloads are enormous and the courts already operate at full capacity with reduced staff and resulting delays. The only place to make further cuts is in personnel, through mandatory furloughs and leaving vacant positions unfilled. Any more reduction in staff will make an almost impossible task completely impossible.
Again, on behalf of the more than 8,000 lawyers of New Mexico and for the sake of the vulnerable in our population, we urge Governor Richardson, the Legislature and the people of New Mexico to support our unique judicial system.
Remember the words of William Gladstone, “Justice delayed, is justice denied.”
Henry A. Alaniz, Esq.
State Bar of New Mexico
The State Bar of New Mexico was organized in 1886 and is composed of more than 8500 members. Its purposes are to aid the courts in administering justice and preserving the rule of law, and to foster a high standard of integrity and competence within the legal profession.