During the partial shutdown of the federal government, which began Dec. 22, 2018, the Judiciary has continued to operate by using court fee balances and other “no-year” funds. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has revised its original estimate and now is working toward the goal of sustaining paid operations through Jan. 18, 2019.
In an effort to achieve this goal, courts have been asked to delay or defer non-mission critical expenses, such as new hires, non-case related travel, and certain contracts. Judiciary employees are reporting to work and currently are in full-pay status.
If existing funds run out and new appropriated funds do not become available, the Judiciary will operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows “essential work” to continue during a lapse in appropriations. This mission critical work includes activities to support the exercise of the courts’ constitutional powers under Article III, specifically the resolution of cases and related services. Each court would determine the staff necessary to support its mission critical work.
In response to requests by the Department of Justice, some federal courts have issued orders suspending, postponing, or holding in abeyance civil cases in which the government is a party for a limited period, subject to further consideration, or until appropriated funds become available. Such orders are published on court internet sites. Criminal cases are expected to proceed uninterrupted.
The Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system remains in operation for electronic filing of documents.
Courts have been encouraged to work with their district’s U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, and Federal Protective Service staff to discuss service levels required to maintain court operations. The General Services Administration has begun to reduce operations and courts are working with their local building managers to mitigate the impact on services.
Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.