The judicial branch of state government in Connecticut has seen an explosion in the number of positions for which it has budgeted since 2001. In fact, the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government with the legislative and the executive branches, has 1,150 more employees now than it did ten years ago.

In 2001, the judicial branch budgeted for 3,051 employees. This year, the number has ballooned to 4,201. That’s an increase of just about 38 percent.

There are several possible reasons for the dramatic increase but one of them is not the fact that marshals—in charge of courthouse security, prisoner transportation and such—were made employees of the judicial branch when the state reformed the old sheriffs’ system. That happened in 2000 and the change is reflected in the 2001 number.

Courthouse security has certainly increased particularly after instances of courthouse shootings and other violence around the country. The nation was shocked in March of 2005 when a 33- year-old male prisoner in Atlanta overpowered a deputy in the temporary holding area of the courthouse, took her gun and then murdered a judge, a court reporter, a deputy and later a police officer before he was finally captured after breaking into a woman’s home. However, it’s hard to imagine that accounting for the relatively large increase in employees in Connecticut’s judicial branch of government.

Anytime a new judge is added, it automatically adds employees because each gets support staff. But again, it’s hard to imagine that being a substantial part of the 1,150-person increase.

The Hanging Shad rattled some cages last Friday, reporting that despite losing 15 seats, state House Democrats increased their staff and had to move some into the Capitol because they ran out of room in the Legislative Office Building. It resulted in a Hartford Courant editorial. Then yesterday, The Shad reported Monday that the number of legislative staffers increased by 33 percent since 2001 despite the obvious fact that there are still the same number of legislators.

Now this new report shows that burgeoning state government is not confined to the legislature. The judicial branch, which prides itself on its independence, has grown enormously as well.

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