(KCPW News) Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham says state courts have absorbed tremendous budget cuts, but they’re still functioning. In the State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the legislature Monday, Durham explained that steep budget cuts have eliminated six percent of the workforce, but the Judicial Council is working toward overcoming the challenges.
“Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, and I am proud of the way in which Utah’s Judicial Council had stepped up to the challenge of re-thinking and re-engineering our work,” she told lawmakers.
Durham said technology and innovation have improved significantly during the economic downturn as the Council found cost savings by transitioning to electronic access plans, e-filing, and digital preservation of court records. She also highlighted a pilot program operating in four judicial districts allowing civil litigants to get help navigating the legal system from an attorney over the phone.
Chief Justice Durham closed with the following advice for lawmakers.
“Let me leave you with the favorite farewell of my husband’s grandfather from Parowan. His life, like many of his generation, included many difficult times and some truly heart-breaking challenges,” she said. “He never failed, however, as you left his presence, to look you in the eye and to enjoin you to ‘Keep on keeping on.’ It’s good advice for all of us.”
Durham also urged lawmakers to ensure that access to state courts is protected, and warned that decreasing court services leads to a backlog of court cases.
Story by Emily Rodriguez-Vargas