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Could this be what our courthouse looks like someday soon?

A press release was just issued today from the Collier County Clerk of Court.  The headline is “Expect Delays at Clerk of Courts’ Office.”   The following is what the press release stated:

“The Florida Legislature recently voted, and Governor Rick Scott signed a budget, to cut the Clerk of Courts budgets by 31M, statewide, translating into a 7% decrease in funding for each county clerk. Over the past 3 years, the Clerk of Courts in Collier County has reduced its budget by approximately 25%.  In that period, the number of clerk employees has been dramatically reduced, satellite offices have closed and customer services eliminated or cut back. It is expected that in the next fiscal year, the citizens of Collier County will experience more of the same.  The Clerk’s office is already dealing with delays in the Recording Department due to increased volume and reduced staffing. That scenario is expected to play out in all court departments, especially Civil.  The Clerk is currently looking at ways to deal with the additional budget cuts while maintaining a level of access and service that is acceptable, although it will not be the same level of service that customer are used to receiving in Collier County.  Dwight reflected “I’m afraid it is going to get worse in the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1st . I ask citizens for their patience and understanding AND TO EXPECT DELAYS!  For more information contact: Robert D. St. Cyr, Director of Community Outreach Clerk of the Circuit Court, Collier County 3315 Tamiami Trail East, Suite 102, Naples, FL 34112 Telephone: (239) 252-6879 Robert.StCyr@CollierClerk.com, www.collierclerk.com, April 26, 2012.”

This is bad news for citizens in Florida.  The civil justice system is the fabric that holds our democracy together.  From all walks of life, from all sectors of the economy, and from all areas of government, we all rely on, expect, and deserve to have an effective and fully funded court system to establish justice.  This is not the area of government to cut.  This is a very bad public policy decision by Governor Rick Scott and his administration.  Furthermore, it is my belief that this type of measure will have a boomerang effect on our state and local economy.  Without an efficient and effective judiciary, the rights of citizens and local businesses are at stake and may result in more people losing their jobs, more businesses being unable to get the assistance they need to keep operating and keep people employed, and thousands of valid legal claims from being paid by parties that have the capital to pay meritorious claims that will now be delayed and potentially irreparably damaged.