A Final Thought on the Closing-the-Courts Bluff

      Was Plan C all a bluff? Maybe. But Nutter’s threat to close the courts definitely was. Forget about the masses wallowing in sardine can prisons while their constitutional rights to face a judge went denied. Forget about the fact that the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority was never going to approve a budget without court funding. And just think about the logistics of trying to close down the Criminal Justice Center. Upwards of 2,000 criminal hearings are heard there  and in the district courts every single day. So if the CJC was closed down even for a week that would be roughly 10,000 cases to reschedule. Imagine a month? It couldn’t happen. Philly court dockets are already so backed up that new trials are being scheduled as far out as February.
      Throughout all this, people inside the DA’s office were calmed by the fact that Lynne Abraham never addressed the possibility of the courts closing with an office-wide meeting like she did when the first round of budget cuts were announced in May.
      “Not a lot of people were worried about it,” one DA source told me. “A lot of people saw it for what it was — a political ruse.”
      With this whole mess finally over, many are now debating what Nutter’s giant — and possibly bullshit — orchestration of impending despair does to his credibility. And that’s a good question. Threatening to close the courts when it was never a real possibility should not be considered ballsy political gamesmanship. It was irresponsible. Another blow to our self-confidence.  With the budget as it is, this city already has enough reasons to feel shitty about itself. We shouldn’t have had to imagine ourselves without a court system.


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