State's top judge gives dire warning on court funding

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's top judge says she will have to take drastic measures with the state's courts if lawmakers cut any more money from the judicial budget.

Chief Justice Jean Toal spoke Wednesday to a joint session of the General Assembly, telling lawmakers there could be a major breakdown in the state's judicial system if the courts lose more money.

In her annual State of the Judiciary address, Toal said she already has stopped judges from traveling and plans on cutting law clerks if funding doesn't improve.

Toal says she may have to cut the number of weeks court is in session if she loses more money from her budget of around $50 million. Toal says that would create more backlogs.

The chief justice says she would support an increase in filing fees to bring in more money.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.