Budget cuts approved by the NC Senate and up for a vote in the NC House of Representatives will directly impact the day-to-day functions of the court, slashing the state’s number of court reporters in half and replacing them with recording equipment. Such a change will likely result in errors in court records, according to Sharon Gladwell, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
Additional cutbacks include $3 million slashed from the Administrative Office of the Courts’ budget as well as the elimination of a dozen special superior court judge positions. Legal advocacy groups like Justice Initiatives, based in Charlotte, argue that the lengthy delays in court proceedings that would be an effect of the budget cuts will result in justice being denied to many North Carolinians.
NC’s court system budget has been decreasing since 2009, a spokesman for the group said.
Cutting the budget for the state court system will lead to an increase in frivolous prisoner lawsuits and an increase in errors made in court records, according to an article by NC Lawyers Weekly.
The budget cuts this week will directly impact Prisoner Legal Services, cutting $2.89 million dollars in funding to the non-profit that answered requests for representation from 12,000 inmates last year. In lieu of in-person services, the courts will provide computer stations and internet access to legal research to allow inmates their constitutionally granted access to the courts.
The changes will increase the number of frivolous prisoner law suits, as 99% of requests for representation from Prisoner Legal Services are turned down because the suit is meritless.
According to an opinion piece in the News & Observer, the state of Ohio pays $1.15 million for its prisoner software service and Pennsylvania $1.25 million for its computer legal library. North Carolina has twice as many prisons as those two states.