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Forum to explore the consequences of an unfunded judiciary to be held at Penn State Law

In an effort to raise public awareness of the importance of a strong, independent judiciary, the Judicial Independence Commission has partnered with Penn State Law, the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association to host a forum to explore the need for adequate funding to maintain the judiciary. “Justice Unfunded – Justice Undone: Assuring Sustainable Funding for Courts,” will be held on Thursday, November 10, in the auditorium of Lewis Katz Hall, Carlisle, Pa.

Formed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005, the goal of the Commission is to foster a better understanding of the role of the courts in a democracy and counter unfair attacks on the judiciary. Over the past few years, the economic downturn has led states across the country to severely cut courts’ budgets, diminishing their ability to administer justice in a timely manner. Courts in virtually every state have instituted combinations of hiring freezes, pay cuts, judicial furloughs, staff layoffs, early retirements, increased filing fees and outright closures.

"As with every branch of government, the third branch is being tasked to do more with far less resources. However, today's budgetary constraints have very real consequences for litigants, lawyers, judges and the entire justice system. Underfunding our judiciary will ultimately cause a crisis in judicial independence," said U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III '80, alumnus and adjunct faculty member at the Law School. "Our distinguished moderator and panelists will debate and discuss these critical issues with the goal of fostering better inter-branch relations."

A distinguished list of speakers and panelists will discuss the consequences of an unfunded judiciary on democracy — in Pennsylvania and across the country at both the state and federal levels. In addition, the forum will explore how Pennsylvania’s judiciary is working with other branches and independent agencies to address the challenges associated with the ongoing budget shortfalls. 

The panel will be moderated by Dick Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General, and will include Mary McQueen, President, National Center for State Courts; David Quam, Director of Federal Relations, National Governors Association; The Honorable Dominic Pileggi, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader; The Honorable Debra Todd, Pennsylvania Supreme Court; and The Honorable Charles Zogby, Budget Secretary to Governor Tom Corbett.

Distinguished guests in attendance will include Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille, Judge Jones, American Bar Association President William Robinson III, and Pennsylvania Bar Association President Matthew Crème.

The program will be recorded for telecast by the Pennsylvania Cable Network and be simulcast to the auditorium of Lewis Katz Building in University Park.

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