From the Web: Evaluating the Potential Impact of the Government Shutdown on Federal Courts

Some courts are taking a wait-and-see approach, while others prepare plans to deal with a long-term shutdown.

1/9/2019 8:00 AM

From the Web: Evaluating the Potential Impact of the Government Shutdown on Federal Courts

If the government shutdown continues past this week, federal government entities, including the court system, face an uncertain future, according to an article from Troutman Sanders LLP.

The firm reports, based on updates from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, there are enough funds for the court system through Jan. 11, 2019 using court fee balances and other monies not dependent on appropriations from Congress.

“But if the shutdown continues past January 11, 2019 and exhausts the federal Judiciary’s resources, courts will have to develop plans for reduced operations, including forcing nonessential workers to stay home while skeleton crews (without pay) handle matters deemed essential under law. Under such a scenario, criminal cases and other critical cases will likely be prioritized while civil cases may be delayed. Judges will have significant latitude to determine which cases move forward and which are deferred,” according to the article.

Some courts are starting to plan for a continued shutdown, while others have a “wait-and-see approach,” the firm reports. The impact of the shutdown for the judiciary “appears likely to create a complex, court-by-court or even judge-by-judge response.”

The Hill also reported this week the U.S. Supreme Court may see some changes as a result of the shutdown as well.

“Since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, the Supreme Court and lower federal ones have stayed up and running by drawing on court fees and other funds that aren’t dependent on congressional appropriations,” according to the article.

If funds dissipate before appropriations are restored, the court will reduce “noncritical” spending and remain open for essential functions, The Hill reports.

Read more insights on the issue from Troutman Sanders LLP here.

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