Category Archives: Connecticut

CT: New Haven public defenders feel budget cuts

From the New Haven Register:

On the day Assistant Federal Defender Paul Thomas began his defense of Hector Natal on arson charges leading to three deaths, he had to inform U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton the trial could not take place that Friday or any other Friday on the weeks to follow.

Why? Sequestration, the nationwide automatic budget cuts that have also forced cutbacks in federal college aid, housing, children’s health insurance and air traffic controllers. (Congress restored the airport cuts after people complained about flight delays.)

Thomas and his staff had been furloughed, ordered not to work on Fridays. Their offices were locked.  As a result, the trial was held Mondays through Thursdays only. The jurors were told not to come in on Fridays, thus extending the number of weeks they had to commit to the case.

Although Natal ultimately was found guilty on all counts, Thomas stressed the furlough had nothing to do with that result. He said he spent those Fridays working outside his office: preparing for the following weeks, reviewing documents, meeting with his co-counsel and others involved with the case.

But Thomas is disturbed by “a breakdown in the (federal government’s) system that resulted in this budget crisis.”

Read the entire article.