New Funding for Federal Jurors Restarts Trials After 2-Week Halt

From Associated Press

Federal jury trials resumed Tuesday in civil cases after a two-week halt, thanks to approval of money to pay the jurors.

The money ran out June 18, prompting most federal courts to refuse to start new civil jury trials until Congress appropriated more, said David Sellers, of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Money to pay court-appointed lawyers to defend indigent criminal defendants ran out May 27, but the attorneys continued to work in anticipation of being paid.

"During the disruption, more than $7.5 million in payments to court-appointed lawyers got backed up, and an untold number of civil jury trials had to be postponed," Sellers said.

On Thursday, Congress passed a $1-billion supplemental appropriation bill for this year, and President Clinton signed it late Friday. It included $5.5 million for civil jurors and $55 million for court-appointed lawyers, Sellers said.

It was unknown how many civil cases were delayed, Sellers said.

Federal jurors receive an average of $50 a day for their services, $40 in pay and the rest for parking and lunch, he said.

While the budget for juror pay dropped from $70 million last year to $68.8 million this year, the supplemental bill brings the total for this year to $74.3 million.

The budget for attorneys' fees, which initially decreased from $221 million to $215 million, now totals $270 million.

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