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Courts have plan to power through shutdown, for now

in News

By Tim Ryan

Courthouse News

WASHINGTON (CN) – While a government shutdown is expected to grip parts of Washington well after Christmas, the federal courts system has enough money to run through Jan. 11.

In a statement over the weekend, U.S. Courts said the federal courts system will be able to function by using leftover money from court fees and “other funds not dependent on a new appropriation.”

The statement notes that most court cases will not be disturbed, with the exception being those that involve government attorneys put on leave. A lengthy shutdown also could cause more significant disruptions to the courts.

“If the shutdown were to continue past three weeks and exhaust the federal judiciary’s resources, the courts would then operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows work to continue during a lapse in appropriations if it is necessary to support the exercise of Article III judicial powers,” U.S. Courts added. “Under this scenario, each court and federal defender’s office would determine the staffing resources necessary to support such work.”

As one of nine departments feeling the brunt of the partial shutdown, the Justice Department is operating under a contingency plan published in September. Under that plan, criminal cases will continue running uninterrupted because they are a function “essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.”

Civil cases, meanwhile, “will be curtailed or postponed” for the most part, unless a court denies the government’s request for a new briefing schedule.

“The department will limit its civil litigation staffing to the minimum level needed to comply with the court’s order and to protect life and property,” the contingency plan states. “Receipts of summonses, pleadings and motions by mail may be delayed.”

According to the Justice Department’s contingency plan, on the other hand, more than 95,000 Justice Department employees will not be furloughed during the shutdown, about 85 percent of the agency’s workforce.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s typically makes for a light schedule in courtrooms, making the impact of the shutdown unclear, at least in the short term.

Larry Klayman, an attorney representing author and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi in a lawsuit against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said in an email Monday he is not expecting any delay in the case, which has a hearing scheduled for Jan. 3.

Mueller’s office has said it will continue operating during the shutdown.

The Supreme Court is out of session until after the new year, with the next oral argument scheduled at the court for Monday, Jan. 7.

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