Now, the sequester's mandatory budget cuts are about to hit home, slowing many facets of the federal justice system in South Florida.
Criminal sentencing hearings in federal court will be suspended Fridays — a favorite day for many judges. This is a result of unpaid furloughs hitting prosecutors, public defenders and federal marshals over the next six months.
Each Federal Public Defender employee in the Southern District of Florida must take 22 unpaid days between April 1 and the end of the government's fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. It translates into almost one day each week.
"The real cost is to the employees of the office," Caruso said. "We have single moms and we have parents who are saving for their kids' college, and we have people who need to pay their mortgage. Every employee is taking a 20 percent pay cut."
Sources told the Daily Business Review that each prosecutor in the Southern District will take 14 furlough days, but the office did not confirm that figure.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer's office referred all questions about budget cuts to the office of Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington.
The Justice Department released a letter from Holder to U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Maryland, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, outlining sequester budget cuts for prosecutors, civil attorneys, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
The Marshals Service is facing furloughs of up to 13 days; employees at the Bureau of Prisons will face on average 12 day.
Picture of Federal Defender Michael Caruso by DBR J. Albert Diaz