Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. had little in the way of specifics for the Virginia Judicial Council today on how the judicial system will respond to a freeze on filling judicial vacancies until July 1, 2012.
He noted that the judiciary’s 2010-12 budget is based on a reduction of 50 judges by then from the number of positions that existed in January.
“I don’t believe that’s going to happen,” he said, because judges who might have wanted to retire will stay on rather than increase the workload for their remaining colleagues.
That means the system will have to find savings elsewhere at a rate of about $250,000 for every vacancy less than the 50 projected in the budget, Hassell said. Our more detailed analysis of the effects of the budget cuts is here.
Whatever happens, “we’re resilient and we’re going to make it work,” Hassell said. “Without the courts, democracy would not and could not exist. Justice cannot yield to the inefficiencies that are going to exist. We can’t rush. We must ensure that everybody gets a fair hearing.”
By Alan Cooper