The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. commonwealth located in the tropical climes of the Pacific Ocean. Unsurprisingly, much of the Islands’ income comes from tourism, and when tourism drops, government budgets shrink.
A sharp decline in tourist arrivals after the coronavirus outbreak led the territorial governor, Ralph Torres, to implement an across-the-board budget cut of more than 28% for Fiscal Year 2020. This action trimmed the judiciary’s budget from about $5.6 million to about $4 million. But the judiciary itself apparently lacks the legal authority to reallocate spending in light of that cut, so Chief Justice Alexandro Castro has sought special permission to obtain “full reprogramming authority” in order to make the diminished budget work.
Another small but dramatic piece of evidence of how courts, like all public and private organizations, are influenced by the external environment.