Letters to the Editor

9/25 Letters: Court system’s PR contract ‘foolish’

Regarding “NC justice’s speech cost taxpayers $36,000” (Sept. 10): Anyone who is not outraged over our state court officials spending $716,500 for public relations has probably never been to court. (Not included in this figure is the cost of the hundreds of hours put in by court administrators to fix the product.) As a lawyer who has represented hundreds of folks in Durham’s Superior and District courts since 1988, I can assure you that the court system does not face a “crisis of communication.”

It does, however, face a crisis over such facts as there are not nearly enough judges, district attorneys, public defenders, county and city attorneys, probation officers, court counselors for juvenile offenders, clerks of court or social workers for families in need and children in foster-care. The judiciary – allegedly a co-equal branch of government – barely receives 2 percent of all state expenditures per year. Of course, “government” doesn’t work if it is not properly funded. And it really doesn’t work when the folks in charge spend precious resources foolishly.

There is and old saying that “justice delayed is justice denied.” Just ask any victim of a crime, anyone who has ever been stiffed by a contract, anyone facing eviction, any parent who has gone through a divorce or property settlement or most importantly, custody of the children. This is even true for convicted defendants. It is harder to connect the offense to the punishment when months or years go by, particularly for young offenders. If we want folks to settle problems peacefully, we need a fully-funded court system. Otherwise we just revert to fighting it out physically, ultimately descending into anarchy. Recent events confirm that this reversion has increased.

Julie Linehan

Durham

‘Shame’ on N.C.

I was horrified to read “After disability check glitch, state wants its money back” (Sept. 17) disclosing that the State of North Carolina is requiring disability recipients who unknowingly received overpayments in good faith during a ten-year period must now repay them on a severely truncated schedule. It was particularly heartbreaking to learn the devastating effect this will have on Carla Shuford, a long-time state employee, who lost a leg to cancer when she was 15 years old.

All those affected should be aware that the state does not have an automatic right to repayment. The law is not disposed to relieve a party of the consequences of their own negligence. Ms. Shuford did not create this problem; the North Carolina Treasurer’s Office did.

I hope everyone affected by this travesty will consult an attorney, or seek the assistance of the Attorney General’s office. In Ms. Shuford’s case, her reduced income puts her one step away from homelessness. This is completely heartless. Shame on the state of North Carolina for even considering such a course of action.

Paula P. Warren

Raleigh

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