Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Federal Courts Will Remain Open During Shutdown

I just started wondering today, what would happen procedurally with the cases pending before the Federal courts during the Shutdown, when I received an email from our District's Bankruptcy Court, stating that "[t]he federal Judiciary will remain open for business for approximately the next 10 business days. On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance." This arrived at 9:30 A.M. and I couldn't stop myself from imagining scenarios, what would happen to the cases and whether it can be used to my clients' advantage. I felt half-worried half-excited approaching the Unknown.

At 3:45 P.M., a much more assuring letter arrived from the Chief Judge Jaroslovsky. No October 15 or any other deadline was mentioned. His letter indicated that the courts will not close, but "will continue to serve the needs of the community until funding is restored." In a reference to federal workers he observed that "[w]e are very much aware that we are the tree upon which all the ornaments and lights of a thriving society are hung." This tree--and the skies--are not falling.

Later today, I also saw a Reuters' post, indicating that Federal Courts will not close nationwide, due to the Anti-deficiency Act. I am not familiar with this law, but a quick look here, suggested the basis for this statute as quite the opposite: that the federal employees are prohibited from making any steps to make the Government owe beyond the already appropriated or approved funds. In any event, the courts remaining open is a great news, notwithstanding the applicability of the Anti-deficiency Act

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