Judicial Branch: An Equal Partner?
Peggy A. Quince
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince says it’s time that legislators start treating the state’s judiciary as the branch of government it really is. For many years, Quince says, the judiciary has been treated like a state agency, instead, and an underfunded state agency at that. The judiciary’s budget has been cut by nearly $55 million since 2008, resulting in more than 300 lost jobs at a time when the courts have been inundated by foreclosure cases. The judiciary’s $451.3-million budget amounts to .7% of the state’s $66.5-billion budget, a percentage that Quince and Florida Bar President Jesse H. Diner say should be boosted to 1%. They acknowledge that’s not likely to happen this year, with the state facing a $2.6-billion deficit and House and Senate budget committees suggesting the possibility of a 10% cut, instead. Quince and Diner are concerned that legislators might try to tap into the State Courts Revenue Trust Fund and use the money for non-judiciary needs.