Recognizing that the state has not yet passed a budget, we are keenly aware that this impasse has created an extraordinary hardship for those of you working as court-appointed attorneys and arbitrators.
Last week, the City of Philadelphia notified the First Judicial District that it would suspend payments to vendors of a non-emergency nature due to a lack of state funding. These payments, which include those to court-appointed counsel and arbitrators, will be processed upon passage of a state budget.
We have sent a letter to Mayor Nutter protesting the suspension of payments and asking for an immediate reinstatement of funds, explaining that court-appointed lawyers and arbitrators are essential to the speedy administration of justice. We are also working hard behind the scenes and doing everything we can to bring a speedy resolution to this issue. We have spoken directly with City officials and are in daily contact with our government relations counsel in City Hall and in Harrisburg.
The Philadelphia Bar Association recognizes that suspension of these payments is placing a huge financial burden and hardship on those of you who devote the majority if not all of your practice to court-appointed cases. We also recognize that your clients, whether they are dependency cases in Family Court or criminal cases in Municipal or Common Pleas Court, deserve knowledgeable, consistent representation and equal access to justice.
For this reason, we are requesting all court-appointed attorneys to continue working on cases for at least 30 more days. We recognize that this will create a financial hardship, and we will certainly understand if you cannot afford to do so. If it is at all possible, however, we ask that you continue to do what you have always done: to consider the needs of your clients, your obligations as an attorney and to do the right thing in the pursuit of justice.
We will continue to pressure our government leaders to resolve this budget crisis as soon as possible, recognizing that the lack of state funds is impacting the lives of clients and attorneys in real and dire ways. However, considering the magnitude of this budget crisis, we ask that you please stand by your clients and keep the wheels of justice moving.
We appreciate your time and attention, and we remain available for your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.