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It has become a common headline in many newspapers, “Furloughs planned for court, county and state workers.” In an effort to save money, many courthouses, county and state office buildings are implementing furlough plans or unpaid days off for staffers. Some are choosing to close one day each month, while others opt for multiple days each month or have advised staff that they will be required to take a certain number of unpaid days off during the year. All in an effort to bridge statewide budget shortfalls. The furlough plans provide a savings on utilities and labor costs.
In New Hampshire, the Supreme Court Justices, Superior Court Chief Justice, and the heads of the district, probate and family courts have also agreed to voluntary furloughs
. While many of the state’s trial judges have shown a willingness to take furlough days as well.
These types of furloughs present a potential to increase a court’s backlog of criminal and civil cases. There is a need to address “essential” and “non-essential” services. It may be possible to operate a court on a skeleton crew, but in many instances civil proceedings will be postponed. However; should arraignments and bond hearings, time sensitive matters involving juveniles or temporary emergency matters in civil cases wait?
With court clerks being impacted by furlough dates, employers may also face challenges with turn around times for criminal background searches for their applicants/employees.
Please refer to your state’s website to see where furloughs are happening in your area.