Budget Cuts

Budget Cuts. Court workers doing more with less.

Budget Cuts
Court workers doing more with less

October 13, 2008
By: Bud Newman

Veteran Miami probate attorney Frank Hollander remembers when the impact of the latest round of court layoffs hit home at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. 

“They laid off a substantial portion of the ex parte clerks,” Hollander said of the clerks who review probate case filings for errors or problems before paperwork goes to judges. “A pall came over the whole probate division. ... It was almost like we were in the Depression. These people were there forever, and all of a sudden, they’re gone. It was a shock.” 

Other probate attorneys he spoke with called the firings “a nightmare.” Four of the county’s nine ex parte clerk positions disappeared July 1 to meet state-ordered layoffs.Hollander expects judges to become frustrated as they spend more time checking filings that clerks once reviewed. 

 
 
 

“In Miami, there are less eyes and ears of the court available to make sure everything that needs to be done is being done,” he said. “There’s going to be corners that are going to be cut.” 

But he said he hasn’t seen a backlog yet. 

“They’ve got it under control at this time,” he said. “I’m happily surprised.” 

Eunice Sigler, a Miami-Dade court spokeswoman, said two of the four eliminated positions were vacant, and two clerks serving as case managers were fired. 

They were among 222 positions cut statewide in circuit and appellate courts effective July 1, causing ripples throughout the court system. In South Florida, entire offices were shut down, longtime court employees were sent packing, services were reduced, and some courthouse tours for schoolchildren were halted. Judges, attorneys and the public are getting fewer or slower services. 

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