Minnesota Chief Justice Eric Magnuson is sounding the alarm about court-system delays under Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal.
Magnuson says the courts are already operating with lean budgets, and the governor's plan to trim nearly $15 million from the system would cause judicial headaches.
"I'm very disappointed with the proposal, particularly the cuts to public defenders and civil legal services," Magnuson said. "I've taken the position in the past several years that we've got a justice system and if all the parts aren't funded, it doesn't work very well. You can have all the judges you want, but if you don't have the lawyers in court to handle the cases, they won't go forward."
Magnuson said the governor's budget would force the Court system to jettison about 100 jobs.
"We're going to have to slow some things down. We may have to see increased closures of the public counters and courthouses," he said. "Many courts are closed half the day a week, and that's a terrible inconvenience for somebody who's got to take some time off work to go deal with a legal issue."
Magnuson says he's disappointed with the governor's proposal for cuts aimed at public defenders. In a report this week, the Legislative Auditor found Minnesota's public defenders already have nearly twice as many cases to deal with as national standards recommend.
(MPR reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this report.)