Retired Judge Speaks Truth to Power
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Retired Federal Judge W. Royal Furgeson Jr. recently made clear to Congress that the nation’s federal court system cannot continue to endure the budget blows imposed by austerity-minded lawmakers and still function properly as a co-equal branch of government that “protects the civil rights of our citizens and delivers justice.” Judge Furgeson, who left the bench in May to become Dean of the University of North Texas College of Law, delivered his comments to the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 8, highlighting the freeze on judicial budgets in 2012, the effects of the sequestration, and the government shutdown that began on October 1.
"The thing that warps my mind is that everybody talks about fidelity to the Constitution, and we are about to put a big hole in the Constitution," Furgeson testified. "You can't arrest people and set them in jail to rot without ever having a hearing. There are cases that are going to have to be dismissed."
Judge Furgeson is absolutely correct. Our federal judiciary is the envy of the world, so much so that most Americans take it for granted because they’ve never experienced anything else. But that same judiciary only works if our elected representatives are willing to fund it properly. This shouldn’t be controversial at any level. As recently as last month, 62% of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the federal judiciary.
The members of Congress responsible for our underfunded courts can only dream of approval ratings like that.
Posted: 10/14/2013 6:34:34 AM by
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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.
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