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Stuart Ditzen, Assistant for Communications www.pacourts.us
Chief Justice Issues State of Commonwealth’s Courts Report
HARRISBURG, May 12, 2009 – The Chief Justice of Pennsylvania today issued the
2009 State of the Commonwealth’s Courts report which predicts rising court caseloads as a result of the nation’s financial crisis.
"Hard times often mean busy times for courts," Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in the report. "As negative economic forces bear down, a dramatic increase in mortgage foreclosures, debt-collection actions, domestic filings and criminal caseloads can be expected."
Chief Justice Castille wrote that fiscal pressures also are having a direct affect on court operations, and the court system is being "asked to do more with less."
The report said that the Governor’s budget proposal for the new fiscal year contains a six percent cut for the judiciary which would, among other shortfalls, provide no revenue for salary or benefits for 68 trial judges — about one in seven Common Pleas Court judges across the Commonwealth.
The report said that the court system already had taken significant steps to cut costs, including the suspension of merit raises for judicial staff for 2009, a hiring freeze on nonessential positions, curtailment of out-of-state travel and a reduction in senior staff level positions.
Despite financial pressures, Castille wrote, the Supreme Court remains fully committed to maintaining standards of judicial excellence. He stressed the need for those within the judiciary to work to maintain and enhance public confidence in the courts.
"More than ever, these times require that citizens be treated with respect," Castille wrote.
"Their causes must be heard promptly. They must have confidence that judicial decisions are thoughtfully considered and fairly rendered."
A copy of the State of the Commonwealth’s Courts is attached
The report also may be seen on the Web site of Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System at