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Federal courts officials in Minnesota say they're worried automatic spending cuts will jeopardize the justice system's smooth operation, with layoffs likely in both the U.S. attorney and public defender's offices.

The cuts are part of what's known as the budget sequester, and they're due to take effect Oct. 1 barring a deal in Congress.

The national public defenders service is facing a 23 percent cut, and Minnesota's federal defender, Katherian Roe, said she will likely have to reduce her staff from 18 people to 10.

Jeanne Cooney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for Minnesota, said her office will see cuts in personnel and operations but the extent isn't clear yet. The office has already been under a hiring and salary freeze.

"All indications are that all U.S. Attorney offices will be faced with huge cuts in order to get to the budget levels ordered per sequestration," Cooney said.

Each office's cuts will be determined by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, part of the Justice Department in Washington.


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