Shutdown, Holdup for the Courts | United States Courts

The federal courts may be open during the government shutdown, but it’s far from “business as usual.” According to a Department of Justice memo (pdf), U.S. Attorneys across the country have been directed to “curtail or postpone” civil litigation “to the extent that this can be done without compromising . . . the safety of human life or the protection of property.” Criminal litigation will continue without interruption.


As a consequence, case by case, U.S. Attorneys are filing motions for stays of litigation. “Absent an appropriation,” the typical motion reads, “Department of Justice attorneys and employees are generally prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis. . . . This is creating difficulties for the Department to perform the functions necessary to support its litigation effort.”

In a letter to Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska (S.D. NY), the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York described his staff under the shutdown: “only a small number of Assistants and staff have been excepted from the furlough”–and among these are the members of the trial team in the United States v. Countrywide Financial Corporation.” Nearly all civil division assistants and staff will be unable to work on cases or meet existing court deadlines until Congress restores funding.

STAY ISSUED IN SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska issued an order (pdf) staying all civil cases in the Southern District of New York, other than civil forfeiture cases, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the district has appeared as counsel. The stay ends the first business day after the President signs into law a budget appropriation. Court deadlines will be tolled during the duration of the government shutdown.

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Read entire report here.

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