Budget cuts may affect legal system - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Budget cuts may affect legal system

By Bernard Watson - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Some Hamilton County judges say big budget cuts are threatening the county's legal system.

The courts have been asked to cut nearly $5 million from their budget, and several judges expressed their concerns during a budget hearing on Wednesday.

These judges told Hamilton County Commissioners that budget cuts are throwing off their scales of justice.

"It's the law abiding citizens that don't know they are not as safe as they assume they are because they assume they are in a lawful society, but right now we have no room to enforce laws like speeding or driving without a licence," said judge Heather Russell.

Russell says losing jail space and deputies, and fewer court clerks is causing major problems that could lead to someone getting hurt.

"I issue a protective order, but its the clerk who enters it into the computer system and if there is not a clerk to do that what value does my order have," said Russell.

But the county is facing a $17 million deficit and commissioners say cuts have to be made.

"The only way we are going to be able to free up money for deputies and prosecutors is to do everything more efficiently," said Commissioner David Pepper. "To spend the same amount of money or less and do more."

Pepper says he's concerned about public safety, but says every department has to make sacrifices.

The judges say that's easier said than done.

"We need to pray that things turn around, just like you in your household are praying for that," said Russell.

The commissioners say they hope to have a final budget by November, but in the meantime they'll continue trying to find ways to save money.

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