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The Shutdown’s Impact on the Federal Courts

By Noah C. Hagan posted 01-14-2019 09:12


The federal government has been operating under a partial shutdown since December 22, and approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay. If the shutdown lasts past January 11, it will have been the longest since a 21-day furlough in December 1995 and January 1996.

Unsurprisingly, the shutdown significantly impacts federal court operations. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts estimates that, using its own funds, it can sustain paid operations until January 18. If funds run out and new appropriated funds are not available, the judiciary will operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act and continue “essential work.” Each court will determine what staff is necessary to continue the essential work. Criminal cases are expected to proceed uninterrupted. Funding for jurors, court reporters, public defenders, and other court staff could be affected.

The Western District of Michigan has stayed all pending Social Security cases for 60 days from December 22, 2018. The Eastern District of Michigan appears to be operating normally, at least until January 18. The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Western District and Eastern District are currently open for all court business.

Update: As of January 16, 2019, the judiciary now estimates that it has funds to operate until January 25.

1 comment



01-17-2019 14:08

The Bankruptcy System may be able function longer than the District Court, although technically it is a branch of the District Court.  The U.S. Trustee's office has been operating short staff.